Home > Safety, Security > Measuring Your Risk for Workplace Violence

Measuring Your Risk for Workplace Violence

Violence prevention and intervention begins with assessing risks and identifying the category of violence that poses the greatest threat. Once you have that understanding, then you can tailor your security measures and training to address that type of violence.

  • It was allegedly a contentious divorce that pushed Scott Dekraai over the edge. On October 12, 2011, just one day after he appeared in court to ask for more time with his 8-year-old son, Dekraai put on body armor, armed himself, and went to the Seal Beach, California, beauty salon where his ex-wife worked as a hairdresser. Dekraai opened fire, killing eight people, including his ex-wife.
  • In his community, Shareef Allman was known as a likeable, “deeply spiritual” man. But at work, he’d been having problems. Allman reportedly believed he was the victim of racial discrimination. He’d had run-ins with the safety department, too. He had recently served a three-week suspension for violating workplace safety rules. On October 5, Allman showed up at the Lehigh Hanson Permanente Cement Plant in Cupertino, California, poured himself a cup of coffee, and began shooting co-workers who were attending a safety meeting. Three of Allman’s co-workers died.

Types of Workplace Violence

Workplace violence typically falls into one of four categories, according to NIOSH. Different workplaces are at risk for different types of violence, so identifying the type you’re most at risk for can help you determine what you need to do to protect your workplace.

Type I: Criminal Intent

In this kind of violent incident, the perpetrator has no legitimate relationship with the business or its employee(s). Rather, the violence is incidental to another crime, such as a robbery, mugging, theft, shoplifting, or trespassing. Acts of terrorism also fall into this category. The vast majority of workplace homicides (85 percent) are Type I violence.

Your workplace may be at higher risk of Type I violence if your business:

  • Handles cash or drugs
  • Could become a target for terrorists

Type II: Customer/Client

When the violent person has a legitimate relationship with the business (for example, the person is a customer, client, patient, student, or inmate) and becomes violent while being served by the business, the violence falls into this category.

A large portion of customer/client incidents occur in the healthcare industry, in settings such as nursing homes or psychiatric facilities. The victims are often patient caregivers. Police officers, prison staff, flight attendants, and teachers can also become victims of this type of violence.

Only about 3 percent of all workplace homicides result from Type II violence, but this category accounts for the majority of nonfatal workplace violent incidents.

Type III: Worker-on-Worker

The perpetrator of Type III violence is an employee or former employee who attacks or threatens co-workers or former-co-workers in the workplace. The Shareef Allman case is an example of this type of violence. Worker-on-worker fatalities account for approximately 7 percent of all workplace homicides.

All workplaces are at risk of this type of violence, but workplaces at higher risk include those that:

  • Do not conduct a criminal background check as part of the hiring process
  • Are downsizing or otherwise reducing their workforce

Type IV: Personal Relationship

The perpetrator, like Scott Dekraai in the case mentioned above, usually does not have a relationship with the business but has a personal relationship with the intended victim. The category includes victims of domestic violence who are assaulted or threatened at work and accounts for about 5 percent of all workplace homicides.

This type of violence can occur in all workplaces but is most difficult to prevent in workplaces that:

  • Are accessible to the public during business hours, such as a retail business
  • Have only one location, making it impossible to transfer employees who are being threatened

Every workplace is susceptible to workplace violence. For that reason, a violence prevention policy and employee training programs are needed to not only help prevent workplace violence, but also to enable those in the workplace to act effectively to protect lives if and when violence occurs.


Categories: Safety, Security
  1. Blackline GPS
    June 18, 2013 at 5:59 PM

    Reblogged this on Blackline GPS and commented:
    An excellent article on workplace violence.


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