Workplace violence is a problem facing every company today. In 2014, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that of the 4,679 fatal workplace injuries that occurred, 403 were workplace homicides. Every year almost 2 million American workers report that they have been the victims of workplace violence, though many of these cases go unreported.

OSHA defines workplace violence as “any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site.”

Workplace violence is broken up into various categories as defined by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). These categories include:

  1. Violent acts by criminals who have no other connection with the workplace, but enter to commit robbery or another crime
  2. Violence directed at employees by customers, clients, patients, students, inmates, or any others for whom an organization provides services
  3. Violence against coworkers, supervisors, or managers by a present or former employee
  4. Violence committed in the workplace by someone who doesn’t work there, but has a personal relationship with an employee—an abusive spouse or domestic partner

Employers have an important role in preventing workplace violence. This includes both a legal and ethical obligation to promote a work environment free from threats and violence. Some strategies and prevention tips include:

  1. Creating and adopting a formal workplace violence policy that is communicated to employees
  2. Establish a system where employees report potential threats
  3. Provide workplace violence and bullying prevention training
  4. Create a culture of trust and respect among workers and management; reducing negativity and stress in the workplace
  5. Conduct background checks and screening on employees before hiring
  6. Ensure that proper security systems are in place including alarms, ID keys, passcodes, cameras and personnel
  7. Be cautious of employees that are fired or terminated

Education and training are critical factors in effectively implementing a workplace security plan. Your company should make sure this plan is communicated properly to employees continuously to make sure that there is a strong awareness of the plan.