Workplace Violence

What is workplace violence?

When you wake in the morning to shuffle off to work, the last thing on your mind is to come face-to-face with a situation on the job that threatens your life. Violence in the workplace is a serious safety and health issue that occurs more often than one thinks.

Workplace violence is exactly how it sounds: “it is the violent actions or the threat of violence that takes place against workers while on the job. The violence may erupt from within the job scene or come from outside contact, where verbal abuse; threats of aggression; physical assault; and homicide are some of the most common forms of the act."

Today, workplace violence is becoming an increasing concern for employers and employees across the nation.  Most people think of violence as a physical assault. However, workplace violence is a much broader problem. It is any act in which a person is abused, threatened, intimidated, or assaulted in his or her employment.


Workplace violence includes:

  • threatening behaviour - such as shaking fists, destroying property, or throwing objects.
  • verbal or written threats - any expression of an intent to inflict harm.
  • harassment - any physical or verbal behaviour that demeans, embarrasses, humiliates, annoys, or alarms a person and that is known or would be expected to be unwelcome. This includes words, gestures, intimidation, bullying, or other inappropriate activities.
  • verbal abuse - swearing, insults, or condescending language.
  • physical attacks - hitting, shoving, pushing, or kicking.


Rumours, swearing, verbal abuse, pranks, arguments, property damage, vandalism, sabotage, pushing, theft, physical assaults, psychological trauma, anger-related incidents, sexual assault, arson, and murder are all examples of workplace violence.

Workplace violence is not limited to incidents that occur within a traditional workplace. Work-related violence can also occur at off-site business-related functions (conferences, trade shows), at social events related to work, in clients' homes, or away from work but resulting from work (a threatening telephone call to your home from a client).

Are you concerned with protecting your employees from violence? The following tips on preventing workplace violence will help:

1. Take threats of violence and alleged reports of threat seriously.
2. Establish a zero tolerance policy complete with set disciplinary standards.
3. Educate all employees in a managerial or supervisory role on the signs of potential violence.
4. Make it easy and safe for employees to report threats and behaviorrs they find alarming.


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