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Workplace Violence Toolbox Talk

In this toolbox talk, learn about the different types of workplace violence and what to do if you're a victim of violence in the workplace.

Workplace Violence Safety Talk

Workplace violence is a real problem that should be discussed more often. Right now, violence in the workplace ranks fourth in the leading causes of death while on the job. There were 500 workplace homicides while on the job reported in 2016.

OSHA keeps records of all the reported workplace violence instances that have occurred. Over 2 million people every year report they have been the victim of violence at work. Violence in the workplace is not okay and needs addressing right away.

Types of Workplace Violence

There are many different forms of workplace violence that can go on. Any type is not permitted and should not go under the radar. Some examples of different types of workplace violence include:

1. Physical Aggression

Physical aggression is the act of hurting another person physically. While the assault is purely physical, this act can cause disruption in your work and can take a mental toll on you emotionally. You can also consider a threat made about harming you in some way an act of physical aggression. If either of these occur, report these instances to your supervisor right away.

2. Acts of Violence

There are many different ways that an employee can experience violence. Any type of violence that you experience from a co-worker or superior needs reported. Some different types of violent acts include:

  • Sexual

  • Neglect

  • Psychological

  • Physical

3. Intimidation

Intimidating employees, or making employees timid or fearful, is another form of violence. It can be a form of harassment depending on the matter that is at hand. Some forms of intimidation that have been reported are:

  • Emotional

  • Sexual

  • Physical

  • Verbal

  • Degrading

  • Glowering

4. Threats

A threat is a statement of an intention to inflict pain, injury, damage, or another hostile action on a person. While some may not consider threats a direct form of violence, they should still be reported. If a coworker has made a threat that is about physical harm to you or your property, don’t be silent.

5. Disruptive Behavior

When you are at work, you are there to complete a job. Behavior should appropriate and focused on what you are there for. If someone using disruptive behavior, it means their behavior is distracting and inappropriate for the workplace.

Responsibility of The Employer

Employers are the ones in charge of making a safe environment for their employees. Businesses should have a zero-tolerance rule in place for these types of instances.

If there is an incident of a threat or aggression being shown, the employer or supervisor should address the situation right away. There are times when employers may be out of view of the act of violence, which is why reporting incidents as soon as they happen is so important.

As the worker, if you ever feel upset or concerned about a situation, go to your supervisor. They will help you resolve the problem at hand.

How to Address Workplace Violence in the Moment

It is unfortunate that workplace violence has to be a reality for anyone. If you have found yourself in this situation without a supervisor present, you may be trying to decide how to address the situation in the moment. Here are a few ways that may help you:

  • Try to stay calm with the person to avoid making the situation worse.

  • Don’t argue with them, it will only escalate the problem.

  • Do not argue with threats that are made, report them to your supervisor.

  • Try to diffuse the situation and leave.

  • If you feel the person is going to hurt you, yell to get someone's attention.

What To Do If You Experience Workplace Violence

It is important to talk with your supervisor if you have experienced violence at work. You may be asked to give a written statement about the situation. This will help to keep the story straight and have something in writing to document it.

From there, your employer will address the situation with the other person. The Occupational Safety and Health Act requires your employer to provide you with a safe environment to work in. It may not be their responsibility that it happened, but they will help to fix the problem.

Effects of Workplace Violence

If you are the victim of workplace violence, it can make you very uncomfortable. There are many emotions that you may experience after the incident occurs. Some other effects you may of workplace violence are:

  • Trouble focusing at work

  • Anxiety

  • Feeling insecure

Always Report Workplace Violence & Don't Retaliate

When you are the victim of workplace violence, it can be tempting to retaliate. That is not always the best decision. Try not to fight back and be confrontational. Diffuse the issue as much as possible and report to your supervisor.

There are times that you may feel that your problem is not taken seriously. If that has happened, take the problem to the person higher up than the supervisor. When a situation is addressed in the early stages, it is oftentimes much easier to control.

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