Workplace Violence: know the warning signs

Workplace violence is an ongoing issue in modern society. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), certain factors can increase the risk of workplace violence. These factors include working alone or in isolated areas, exchanging cash with the public, working late hours, and working with people who may have a higher propensity for violence. Workers at a higher risk of workplace violence include delivery drivers, healthcare professionals, public service workers, customer service representatives, law enforcement personnel, and taxi drivers.  

Know the warning signs 

According to ASIS International, a professional organization that issues certifications, standards, and guidelines for the security profession, there may be warning signs that can occur prior to a workplace violence incident. Warning signs of someone who could act out violently include: 

  • Has a history of threats or violent act 
  • Has a criminal history that suggests the use of violence to project power and to control others, or to respond to stress or conflict
  • Acts out with threats, bullying, or other concerning behavior, aggressive outbursts or comments, or excessive displays of anger 
  • Abusive or harassing behavior 
  • Holds grudges or an inability to handle criticism 
  • Continuously makes excuses and blames others 
  • Chronic, unsubstantiated complaints about persecution or injustice
  • Obsessive intrusion upon others or persistent unwanted romantic pursuit 
  • Erratic, impulsive, or strange behavior that causes fear among coworkers
  • Expression of homicidal, suicidal, or self-harm intentions
  • Displays signs of emotional distress 
  • Obsession and/or fascination with weapons 
  • Obsessiveness with violent themes of revenge 
  • Unusual interest in publicized violent events 

Some proper responses to violent or potentially violent situations are: 

  • Paying attention to the person 
  • Using supportive body language 
  • Avoiding gestures that may be perceived as threatening or dismissive (head shaking, pointing, or arm crossing) 

Workplace violence continues to be an issue for organizations both large and small. By knowing the warning signs and educating employees on proper response and de-escalation techniques, businesses can help make workplaces safer, healthier environments for their workers and customers. In turn, this could have a positive impact on society as a whole.  

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© 2021 The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company. All rights reserved. This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to convey or constitute legal advice. HSB makes no warranties or representations as to the accuracy or completeness of the content herein. Under no circumstances shall HSB or any party involved in creating or delivering this article be liable to you for any loss or damage that results from the use of the information contained herein. Except as otherwise expressly permitted by HSB in writing, no portion of this article may be reproduced, copied, or distributed in any way. This article does not modify or invalidate any of the provisions, exclusions, terms or conditions of the applicable policy and endorsements. For specific terms and conditions, please refer to the applicable endorsement form. 

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