Health and Safety – Stop the Workplace Bully

Workplace violence occurs when harmful acts or threats of harmful acts are committed against persons while in their work setting. According to an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fact sheet, workplace violence can be anything from verbal threats or abuse, intimidation, or physical acts that result in injuries or homicide. It can occur in any workplace without exception, so all workers must be aware of the possibility of events that can lead to workplace violence. Nearly two million reports are received each year from people stating they were victims of workplace violence. There are assumed to be many cases that go unreported. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), there were 506 workplace homicides in 2010.

Causes of workplace violence

Several issues may cause people to make choices that are harmful to themselves or others in the workplace. These include mental illnesses, alcohol or drug abuse, and financial crises that are related to job loss. Workplace violence is often the result of a person’s inability to cope with these stressors, leaving them with the feeling that there is no alternative to solving their problems or dealing with the anger or fear they are experiencing.

Risk factors related to workplace violence

OSHA lists various risk factors for workplace violence. These factors include:

  • Jobs that involve the exchange of money with the public;
  • Unstable people in the workplace;
  • Work sites where alcohol is served;
  • Late night work shifts;
  • Work sites located in high crime areas;
  • Working alone or in small groups;
  • Jobs such as delivery drivers, healthcare professionals, public service workers, customer service agents and law enforcement personnel.

Warning signs and Prevention Plans

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By Drew Mitchell

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