Studies Reveal That Over Half Of Employers Experience Workplace Violence In Both The United States and New Zealand

Robert Capwell

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Workplace Violence Accident ReportAccording to The National Institute For Prevention Of Workplace Violence, Inc., workplace violence is defined as “Acts of aggression or violence, that occur in, or are related to the workplace, whether intentional or reckless, including assaults, threats, disruptive, aggressive, hostile or verbal or emotionally abusive behaviors that generate fear for one’s safety or entails a perceived risk of harm to individuals, or damage to an organization’s resources or capabilities.”   Depending on the severity and nature of the incident; acts of workplace violence can add to lost productivity and materials, lost sales, higher absenteeism, increased workers compensation and medical claims, increased lawsuits and settlement costs, negative publicity, etc.  Statistics from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) estimate the yearly cost to U.S. employers is over $121 billion per year. 

Loss from workplace violence is not just a concern in the United States; workplace violence has also been revealed as a global concern by other countries such as New Zealand.  Surveys continue to indicate consistent workplace violence trends as a recent study conducted by researchers at Massey University in New Zealand confirmed.  The Report on the 2011 New Zealand Workplace Violence Survey, released on May 27, 2011, provides consistent data with the trends of workplace violence in the United States.  Researchers conducted an on-line survey to which 96 organizations in New Zealand responded.  Respondents represented approximately 4% of the employed workforce in New Zealand which equated to over 76,000 workers.  The report concluded that just over 50% of the organizations that participated had reported cases of workplace violence.  The survey also roughly indicated an even split between physical assault and property-related violence.  A total of nearly 2,500 cases of workplace violence were reported in 2009 by the 96 organizations that participated.  The highest incidence of workplace violence was reported within the “attempted assault” category, while a total of 436 cases involved some form of physical injury which equates to 18% of all reported cases. 

These statistics are almost surreal when compared with previous studies conducted within the United States.  The 2011 Workplace Violence Prevention Fact Sheet published by The National Institute For The Prevention Of Workplace Violence, Inc., in April of 2011, refers to preliminary data released in 2009 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicating that 18% of fatal injuries reported were due to “assaults and violent acts”.  A previous study conducted in 2005 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics is also consistent with the data from the New Zealand survey that indicated approximately 5% of all businesses in the United States experienced an incident of workplace violence as compared to 4% in New Zealand.  The U.S. survey revealed that 50% of organizations with more than 1,000 employees experienced an incident of workplace violence.  This figure is also consistent with the 50% experience rate from the New Zealand Study. 

Considering many acts of violence can come directly from employees, contractors and even volunteers within your organization, establishing a due diligent pre-employment and ongoing background screening policy is a must.  EBI assists employers with designing a comprehensive background check program which can help reduce the potential of workplace violence and the risks associated with negligent hiring and retention litigation.  EBI customizes its services to meet the needs of companies of all sizes, in many different industries and countries. 

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Background Checks, Workplace Violence

Robert Capwell

Posted By: Robert Capwell

EBI’s Chief Knowledge Officer, Mr. Robert E. Capwell, is considered one of the leading experts in the background screening industry with over 22 years of experience in the field. Mr. Capwell was a contributing author of the second edition of the ASIS Pre-employment Background Screening Guidelines and has written numerous articles and whitepapers for various publications including a periodic column on background screening for The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Online. He has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Human Resource Executive Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine, and several HR-related publications. Mr. Capwell speaks regularly to industry colleagues and HR Professionals both nationally and internationally.

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