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The Threat of Violence: A Reality in the Modern Workplace

Posted Friday, November 3rd, 2017

Member Submitted, Hidden

Submitted by: Continuity Insights

As so many recent events have demonstrated, every organization is vulnerable to workplace violence, regardless its size, type or location. Every organization must be aware of this risk, and every employee should understand their role in recognizing and reporting concerning behaviors.

Beyond the physical and emotional suffering from job-related violence there are substantial financial risks as well. Studies have estimated that:

  • The cost to businesses associated with workplace violence was $121 billion each year,
  • American workers lost 876,000 workdays annually due to workplace violence,
  • The average out-of-court settlement for workplace violence-related litigation was $500,000.00, while average jury awards were $3 million,
  • Homicide in the workplace is the third leading cause of death for American workers.

“Workplace violence” is defined as violence or the threat of violence against workers.  It can occur at or outside the workplace, and can range from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and homicides. We should also be aware that risk of violence in the workplace comes from several sources, not simply the stereotypical “former disgruntled employee.”

  • Eighty-five percent of all workplace homicides involve Type I violence, in which there is no legitimate relationship between the perpetrator and the victim.
  • Type II violence involves customers, clients or patients known to the worker and occurs in the normal delivery of services.
  • Type III violence is what comes to mind for most people when thinking of workplace violence. This involves current or former employees who harbor some sort of smoldering hostility toward a business, usual stemming from the perception of a personal or professional injustice.
  • Domestic violence or intimate partner violence that follows an employee from home to work is referred to as Type IV violence and affects others in the workplace who may be caught in the crossfire if a violent ex shows up at work.
  • Type V violence represents the intersection of workplace violence and terrorism. It is ideologically motivated and directed at an organization because of what it does or represents.

Regardless of the type or location in which violence is committed, incidents of workplace violence can often be deterred through early recognition and effective response. People do not just snap, therefore workplace violence is best viewed as a process and not an event. By understanding the pathway to violence and the important pre-incident markers along that pathway, employers and employees can work together to reduce the likelihood of violence and create the safe and healthy workplaces necessary for individual and organizational success.


Today the nature of work, the workplace, and workplace violence continues to evolve, as has organizational, law enforcement and EMS response to incidents of violence on the job.  To learn more about this tragic phenomenon, a one-day conference Workplace Violence: A Multidisciplinary Perspective, will be held on December 5, 2017, at the DoubleTree by Hilton on South Broad, Philadelphia.  Leading experts will include Steve Crimando, a violence prevention expert; Lt. Joseph Rovnan of the Philadelphia Police Counter Terrorism Unit; Phillip DeMara with the Philadelphia Department of Emergency Response; Megan Gomez, senior legal counsel with Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield; Bert Alicea, a licensed psychologist and human resource professional; and a special presentation by Sarah Powell, Director of Emergency Management at Temple University, where she will share insights on Temple’s active shooter preparedness/response program.  For more information, go to: https://continuityinsights.com/events/workplace-violence-a-multidisciplinary-perspective/

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