The October publication of the Workplace Violence Prevention eReport was just released from the National Institution for the Prevention of Workplace Violence, Inc. The publication includes several reports of workplace violence incidents and includes education resources to better prepare employers and the public in case of an unthinkable act of violence in the workplace.
Workplace homicides have increased by 50% in 2012, according to Dr. Larry Barton, Ph.D., an expert in threat management and a faculty member at the FBI Academy. Barton calculates that on average, two people are murdered at work each workday in the United States (Bailey, 2013). According to a Bureau of Justice Statistics report, current and former work associates accounted for 21% of workplace homicide offenders between 2005 and 2009 (Harrell, 2011). Between 2005 and 2009, individuals employed in sales and office jobs accounted for a staggering 33% of workplace homicides, ranking higher than law enforcement workplace homicides at 17%.
The recent events of the horrific Penn State child sex abuse allegations remind us all that workplace violence can strike at any time and place, and can involve individuals that you would never suspect. Although none of us can ultimately eliminate all tragedies such as this, organizations can take a pro-active stance through education and awareness, along with incorporating a solid Workplace Violence Prevention and Intervention Program to minimize such risk. Depending on the severity and nature of the incident, acts of workplace violence can scar individuals both mentally and physically; create negative publicity and brand defamation; increase lawsuits and settlement costs; add to the loss of production and sales; increase absenteeism; increase workers compensation and medical claims. There is no positive outcome of such an event, except to embrace the opportunity for greater awareness and prevention.
According 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.