Workplace Violence - Occupational Safety & Health Administration

What is workplace violence? (OSHA)

Workplace violence is any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site.

It ranges from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and even homicide. It can affect and involve employees, clients, customers and visitors.

Acts of violence and other injuries is currently the third-leading cause of fatal occupational injuries in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), of the 5,147 fatal workplace injuries that occurred in the United States in 2017, 458 were cases of intentional injury by another person. However, it manifests itself, workplace violence is a major concern for employers and employees nationwide.

Frequently Asked Questions

Research has identified factors that may increase the risk of violence for some workers at certain worksites.

  • Working alone in isolated areas
  • Exchanging money with the public
  • Working with volatile, unstable individuals
  • Time of the day
  • Location of work 

Many American workers report having been victims of workplace violence each year. Unfortunately, many more cases go unreported. Providing services and care, and working where alcohol is served may also impact the likelihood of violence. Among those with higher-risk are workers who exchange money with the public, delivery drivers, healthcare professionals, public service workers, customer service agents, law enforcement personnel, and those who work alone or in small groups.

To minimize risk of workplace violence and protect the safety of all workers, patients, clients, visitors contractors and anyone who may enter into the facility employers need to: 

  • Establish a zero-tolerance policy toward workplace violence.
  • Develop and implement a well-written workplace violence program
  • Ensure that all workers understand the workplace violence policy and how to make a claim
  • Promote a safe work environment where workers understand that all claims of workplace violence will be investigated and remedied promptly
  • Explore and implement additional safety methods within the workplace to protect employees in high risk industries. 

Additional Resources

  • Occupational Safety & Health Administration - Workplace Violence


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