Workplace Violence Details and Facts

Welcome to this article on the facts about workplace violence. In this article we cover information and facts about:

  • What is workplace violence

  • Who are the victims

  • What is the impact on an organization

  • Counseling options and considerations

  • Best practices and legal considerations

These are important topics to cover related to our subject so let's get started.

A look at the big picture

When we look at workplace violence we can also look at a bigger picture of facts on both workplace and domestic violence as they can be related. Here are some statistics to consider.

  • At least one woman is murdered every day by their boyfriend or husband in the United States

  • Over one million injuries from partners occur every year to women in the United States

If a person experiences domestic violence, this can impact the workplace. This is because the victim can:

  • Be harassed at the workplace

  • Receive threatening phone call

  • Be less productive at the workplace

  • Be absent at work due to injuries

A definition

Since domestic violence can have an impact on the workplace we should look at a definition of domestic violence. The definition can include:

  • coercive behavior

  • acts of violence

  • threats of violence

The victim can be a partner, former partner or spouse, spouse, or family member. It can involve individuals from all demographics including sexual orientation, education, culture, age, gender, race, and religion.

The acts of violence can be verbal abuse, physical violence, sexual violence, emotional intimidation, psychological intimidation, stalking, economic control, harassment, injury, and physical intimidation.

More information about incidents include:

  • Women more than men are victims of a workplace death where a partner is responsible

  • About a quarter of organizations in the U.S. reported an incident of domestic violent that includes assaults and threats

Impact on business

Productivity can be hurt due to partner violence as victims take time off from work. Business can also suffer when a victim gets fired or asked to leave a job due to stalking. Stalking can also cause a victim lose time from work due to a fear of safety or court time.

If someone is a victim a business can suffer because the victim can:

  • have trouble concentrating on their work

  • get harassing phone calls at work

  • be late for work due to incidents of abuse

  • be afraid of getting a visit at work from an abusive partner

The costs in the United States can be billions of dollars each year due to lost productivity, sick leave, absenteeism, health care services, and legal services. Employers and employees can agree that domestic violence can have a negative impact on business.

More information on workplace violence

Many agree that the United States workplace is experiencing an increase in workplace violence with research supporting this. This violence puts at risk workers and their productivity, safety, and health with some calling workplace violence a health epidemic. Research shows an increase in workplace violence.

Research shows that in a decade workplace homicide more than doubled in the United States. It is a major category of murder in the United States especially for women. The workplace can be a dangerous place. Workplace violence can also include threats of harm, harassment, and physical attacks. An attack can come from a co worker, client, customer, former employee, or manager.

Close to a million people are victims of violent crime in the American workplace. This includes robberies, rapes, and assaults while a person is at work. Some research shows that there is a close to 25 percent chance that a person within the next year will be harassed, threatened, or attacked at work. About half of these happen in companies that are private. The impact on business comes from lost work, legal expenses, annual leave, and sick time.

Incidents can include death from a gunshot and killing of a boss. Compared to the total population, homicides occur more often with Hispanics, blacks, immigrants, and Asians.

Where homicides are more likely

You are more likely to be the victim of workplace homicide with some jobs. These include those working at:

Convenience stores



Interested in learning more? Why not take an online Workplace Violence course?

Gas stations

Guard and armored car services



Taxi services

Educational services

Health services

Robberies or robbery attempts are when most homicides occur. This can happen more likely at night when an employee is making a money drop or pickup or locking up. Homicides are less likely due to an incident with a spouse, client, or co worker.

What is behind it and what can be done

We should ask why workplace violence is becoming more likely so we can look at what we can do to prevent it. This includes what management, employees, and employers. We should look at psychological, social, and economic factors. Here are some factors to consider.

  • Over half of workplace harassment comes from co workers and bosses

  • Attacks come more from from patients, clients, and customers not from an ex-worker who is disgruntled

  • Robberies can come from a stranger

  • Strangers more likely attack men

  • Women are more liked attacked by someone they know

  • Workplace homicides involving women are often done by a partner

Homicides where a woman is the victim is part of the picture of workplace violence. Incidents resulting in battering or a disabling injury is the rest of the picture that includes assaults and rapes. Here are some factors to consider.

  • Restraining orders can apply to the home of a victim but not the victim's workplace

  • A victim can change their address or phone number and less likely to change where they work

  • An epidemic of domestic violence can affect the workplace

No place of employment is exempt. Violence can happen in a school, college campus, hospital, rural or urban area, small or family-run business, or large company.

Violence at educational, healthcare, and other institutions

Research shows an increase in violence of American schools. It continues to grow with almost a quarter of teachers reporting they were threatened by students. Here are some factors to consider.

  • High school teachers can be the victim of a physical attack as can students

  • Teachers can be the victim of theft as can students

  • Gun violence can happen at schools

Research also shows a growth in assaults in hospitals. This can include an emergency room. Nurses tend to be most involved in patient care and the staff most likely to experience violence. Others who could experience violence include social workers, clinical staff, psychologists, and psychiatrists.

Any organization including churches, museums, shelters, sports events, and nonprofit groups can provide the setting for violence.

What we can do

Employers can take measure to cut down the chance of harassment and violence in the workplace. Here are some factors to consider.

  • Taking measures can help avoid harm to employees

  • Taking measures can help avoid costs due to workplace violence

  • Anticipate workplace violence to help avoid it

  • Plan to prevent workplace violence and save money

  • Prepare and train employees

  • Use clear policies and procedures to avoid workplace violence

Employees who were victims at a workplace indicate that everyone at a workplace should understand the possibilities of workplace violence and work together to avoid it. This includes employers, employees, managers, and visitors. Training can help all involved know what to do to prevent violence and what to do if they are a victim.

More factors and facts

A workplace can become a dangerous environment after an incident of violence. Survivors and co-workers can become devastated emotionally as can witnesses, family, friends, and those who were targeted but missed. The impact can be psychological and financial. Here are factors to consider.

  • If violence occurs once it could happen again

  • If an incident seems arbitrary survivors and those around them feel unsafe – with an example being the "going postal" phrase applied in various settings

After a workplace violence event here are possible impacts and organizations should account for this and take action to help.

  • People can be in shock

  • People can have trouble concentrating

  • People can feel scarred for life – extending to the future ability to work

Trauma that comes with workplace violence can depend on many factors. These can include family support, organizational support, age, and ability to handle stress. Many will not be able to just get over it. Programs can help.

Recognizing the impact and how to help

If there is workplace violence, survivors could feel as if the experience is happening again and experience nightmares, fear, and anxiety. Survivors can also withdraw and suffer from depression, not return to work, and avoid all reminders of what happened, even medicating with drugs and alcohol. Survivors can have a general problem with concentrating, anger, and irritability.

Management at organizations should recognize that help to the victims is needed. This can help with long term problems. An organization and its members can return to regular activities. Programs that can include counselling should allow survivors to express their emotions and acknowledge trauma.

  • Discussion in detail of what happened can help

  • Group meetings can help

  • Meetings within two to five days of an incident can help

  • Counselling can include 3-5 sessions to be effective for many people

Considerations when it comes to counseling

Here are factors to consider.

  • Use a crime victim counsellor

  • Use a local victim assistance program or mental health association

  • Offer grief assistance

  • Look at programs that a publically or privately funded

  • Look at mental health clinics or hospitals for help

  • Look at homicide survivor groups

  • Consider the special groups for victims of stalking domestic violence

  • Note that prosecutor's office can help

In addition to these factors know that management should provide assistance and support. This will help the survivor of workplace violence. What will not help is denial or disbelief that a survivor is suffering. Blaming the victim will not help. Stigmatizing the victim will not help. Also not helpful is ridicule, and denial of assistance.

Legal considerations and what an employer should do

Employers should create an environment where workers feel they can and should report threats when they happen. A poor practice is to ignore threats and violence. Estimates show that many incidents at the workplace are currently not reported to police.

Employers may also have a legal duty to respond adequate to harassment and threats when an employee complains. This can include warning employees of a dangerous fellow co-worker. A best practice is for an employer to train employee on how to handle workplace violence or the possibility of it. Policies and procedures should clearly explain what to do. Without such documentation and training, employees do not know what to do and may not bring concerns to management. Here are some best practices.

  • Provide guidelines to employees on how to report on violence in the workplace

  • Provide guidelines to employees on how to report on suspicious activity or threats

  • Tell employees to voice concerns to management

  • Provide training to the human resources department on effective practices that involve legal considerations, security, and local law enforcement

By law an employer must provide adequate security in the workplace. Court action can happen if an employer does not remove hazards and does not provide proper security. This can include practices on working alone and how to handle potential incidents after a termination or reduction in force.

Of course if someone is attacked at work or killed, it is devastating to the entire organization as well as the victim and survivors. Business can also suffer. Productivity can suffer and lost work time can result. Legal action can also follow. Here are some factors to consider.

  • An employer must provide reasonable protection for workers and visitors

  • An employer must provide reasonable security at the workplace

  • The term – reasonable – depends on the situation and risk factors

  • In a high risk environment, the employer must do more

When we look at what is reasonable we must consider, for example, what an employer might do for an employee who handles cash or works alone at night. Security concerns in such an environment can be great so the employer must do more than for those workers who are in a less risky environment.

A quick review

In this article we looked at facts related to workplace violence and these related topics.

  • What is workplace violence

  • Who are the victims

  • What is the impact on business

  • Counselling options and considerations

  • Best practices and legal considerations

We hope you found the information in this article of value.