By Adam Jennings
Myth: Violence while you are at work is not common.
Reality: Violence in the workplace accounts for approximately one thousand homicides each year. However, assault is often more likely to take place than homicide. This includes assault with a deadly weapon, sexual assault, assault, robbery, and rape. In the case of sexual assault, for instance, a worker may be victimized more than once, especially if the offender is a superior. Employees typically keep quiet about the assault because they are afraid they may lose their job or be made fun of. Perpetrators are not armed in four out of five violent confrontations in the workplace.
Myth: The post office is the primary place for violence in the workplace.
Although we’ve all become familiar with the phrase “going postal”, the United States Postal Service is not where the majority of workplace violence takes place. In fact, only 3.1 percent of violence in the workplace occurs in Federal agencies. The rest are private companies across all types of products, services, and locations.
Myth: Physical violence is most often a difficulty for men, and should not concern women.
Reality: In non-fatal attacks at work, women are far more in danger than men from relatives, friends, acquaintances and especially former or even current partners or spouses. The top cause of women’s death in the workplace is homicide. In addition, of all reported non-fatal assaults in the workplace, two-thirds occur in social service locations such as residential care facilities, nursing homes and hospitals. And, women make up the majority of the workers in these types of workplaces.
Myth: Personal problems of management and employees does not affect the work environment.
Reality: In 30.3 percent of attacks on men in the workplace and 49.4 percent of attacks on women, friends, acquaintances and relatives are the perpetrators. The greatest number of fatalities for women at work is from homicide. When women are killed at work, a former or current partner or spouse is responsible in one of five deaths. When employees or management have personal problems that are not resolved at home, emotional turmoil and rage may be carried over to the workplace, putting everyone at risk.
Myth: Security guards and metal detectors reduce workplace violence.
Reality: If the violent person has no connection with the company and approaches the workplace from outside, then security measures like metal detectors and security guards would stop them from entering. However, none of these security measures help to stop violent acts from internal sources, such as those who have access to a company or organization. This would include those who are known to an organization as a former or current employee, acquaintances, friends and family members of former or current employees. That is why so many spouses or ex spouses of women in the workplace can easily enter the building and commit acts of violence.
Demographic profiles of employees determines which people will become violent at work.
Reality: Demographic profiles focus on gender, age, and race. These particulars are certainly not useful to predict who will become violent, who will steal from the company, or who will engage in sexual assault. Without a more in depth evaluation of each person, one would never be able to prevent violence in the workplace on demographic profiles alone.
Myth: Violence in the workplace is a random event.
Reality: If coworkers and management take note of people’s behaviors and assess typical actions and statements made by their fellow workers, employees at high-risk of violence could be identified. If people were to pay attention and listen to coworkers making veiled threats, determining a conflict, or witnessing generally contentious behavior, impending violence would be prevented. Employees could be trained to listen for and deal with potential violence.
Myth: You can’t stop violence in the workplace.
Reality: If executives and administrators have a system developed that incorporates early intervention for any employee who exhibits tendencies toward violence, imminent violent acts can be averted. This system should be in place as a policy throughout the entire company. All employees should receive training to identify behavior that has shown to be a forerunner of violence. When an employee has been assessed as a high-risk individual, an intervention plan should be in place and enacted quickly to stop a disaster.
Source: Job Resource Center