Understanding and preventing workplace violence
Workplace violence is 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 homicide, one of the leading causes of job-related deaths. However it manifests itself, workplace violence is a growing concern for employers and employees nationwide. Some 2 million American workers are victims of workplace violence each year. Workplace violence can strike anywhere, and no one is immune. Some workers, however, are at increased risk. Among them are workers who exchange money with the public; deliver passengers, goods, or services; or work alone or in small groups, during late night or early morning hours, in high-crime areas, or in community settings and homes where they have extensive contact with the public. This group includes health-care and social service workers such as visiting nurses, psychiatric evaluators, and probation officers; community workers such as gas and water utility employees, phone and cable TV installers, and letter carriers; retail workers; and taxi drivers. According to a study conducted by Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, the perpetrators of violent incidents in the workplace are most often customers, followed by strangers or coworkers. Estranged spouses or partners are also common perpetrators of workplace violence.
Irrational behavior is the most common motivator for workplace violence. Other motives include service dissatisfaction, personal conflict, anger over discipline, criminal activity, personal problems and reaction to firing or layoff. Workplace violence can result from domestic violence. An employee who is a victim of domestic violence will usually exhibit signs of domestic violence, which in turn may lead to a loss of productivity at work, absences from work and heightened anxiety levels at work. Domestic...
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