To most people, including many in law enforcement and the media, this would simply mean that someone walks into the business with a firearm and starts killing people, including co-workers. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple to put workplace violence (WPV) into such a small parameter.
WPV takes many forms both within the business and outside. I realize that this may be a concept that most people aren’t familiar with, so let me elaborate just a bit on what WPV actually entails and a couple of other facts you may find surprising.
Where it occurs:
WPV can happen anywhere, to anyone, at any time, for any reason. This means that it can happen both at and away from the business! An example is this incident that occurred in Phoenix in August of 2012;
Two employees of a school district had been arguing for months and nearly coming to blows while at work. One co-worker went to the other’s home and dropped off several pipe bombs in the driveway. Fortunately, neither went off effectively and no one was injured. This shows that if something occurs because it started at work, then it is WPV.
Vice Versa, if an incident happens off company property and carries onto the facility grounds, then it should also be considered WPV. Take for an example two people live next to each other and work at the same business. They argue over numerous things until one gets fed up and strikes out against his co-worker/neighbor.
What Constitutes WPV?:
So the question now comes to what actually constitutes WPV. Again, the perception, from practically everyone you ask, is that it only occurs when an employee brings a firearm into the business and begins seeking retribution & revenge upon those who wronged them? That is not even close to the magnitude of what actually entails the many facets of it.
WPV, even in its narrowest form, takes in ANY event that could possibly lead to or incite violence within the business. In other words, look at these and think about whether or not they could either cause or cause someone else to commit violence in some form or another;
Harassment, of any kind
Threats, from bombs and personal to innumerable others
Bullying, remembering that those being bullied may act like a trapped rat when backed into a corner
Verbal assaults, including dressing downs by supervisors, co-workers or customers/patients
Actual physical assaults, and I’m sure I don’t need to elaborate here
And throwing a pencil at someone because you’re angry…YES it is an assault if the intent was to hurt or intimidate
These are just a few of the many angles that WPV can and does take within the business. If you look at those ways that it can happen you can fully see how it occurs in every business, even one person companies.
Who causes it?:
While most publicized incidents of WPV are because of co-workers, the truth is more than 85% of all incidents are because of other crimes. There is some debate on the exact number, but the average is between 79% & 85%.
The other people who cause incidents of WPV are as follows, and I have touched on these before, but to re-fresh your memories;
Patients & students (only 2% but 85% of injuries and lost time)
Supervisors, managers, & owners
WPV is an ever present issue and ghostly specter looming over businesses like a ghoul. Because of the numerous ways it can happen, businesses can lose money in just as many ways as WPV can occur. Then there are the lawsuits over inadequate security and other such security issues, which can be innumerable as well.
Remember my old stand-by saying from above;
Anywhere – Both on and off the business property
Anyone – Doesn’t matter who you are, you can be a victim even if it’s only a verbal dressing down by an upset customer!
Any time – Fatal incidents of WPV have occurred at all hours of the day and night. From day break safety meetings to quitting times.
Any reason – With innumerable reasons – mental health, disparate treatment, and all the others pinning it down to just one cause just doesn’t work anymore.
Facebook.com/oneistoomany or Twitter: @robertsollars2
I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear