Protecting against Workplace Violence

By Barrett, Stephen | Public Management, August 1997 | Go to article overview

Protecting against Workplace Violence


Barrett, Stephen, Public Management


Each day, public employees face the growing threat of workplace violence. While bombings such as the one at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City remain the extreme and statistically rare form of workplace violence, other forms have become alarmingly common. Federal, state, and local governments are struggling to protect their employees' safety, and it's no easy task. Government leaders face many challenges from a wide range of potential violence, but there are a number of things that can be done to provide protection in the workplace.

A Growing Threat

To put the problem in perspective, it's important to understand the magnitude of the threat that violence presents to American workers:

* Homicide now is the number one cause of death for women workers in the United States and the number three cause for all U.S. workers.

* Workplace homicide is the fastest growing homicide. There are more than 2 million workplace assaults in the United States each year. In addition, there are 16 million workers who are harassed and 6 million who are threatened.

* The rate at which supervisors are murdered at work has doubled since 1985.

* The U.S. Department of Justice found that one out of every six crimes occurs at the workplace.

As shocking as these statistics are, they probably underestimate the problem. A study by J. R. Lion, W. Snyder, and G. L. Merrill estimated that for every five workplace violence incidents that occur, only one is reported.

Government employees appear to be at even greater risk than private sector employees. In 1994, the Bureau of Justice reported that while government employees made up only 18 percent of the workforce from 1987 to 1992, 30 percent of workplace violence victims were federal, state, or local government employees. Further, with the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, federal employees' statistical risk of dying on the job as a result of workplace violence increased.

All employers have an ethical and legal duty to provide employees a safe, healthy work environment. The statistics clearly show that workplace violence now is a major cause of workplace injury and death. It's a foreseeable threat to worker safety, thus employers have a duty to take all reasonable precautions to prevent it.

Acknowledging this threat, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued guidelines clarifying an employer's obligation to provide a workplace free of known safety hazards, including violence. OSHA requires all employers to assess the risk posed by all threats to employee safety and to take reasonable steps to minimize such threats. Employers who fail to protect employees from known hazards, including violence, are liable for citations and fines that can reach $70,000.

The Perpetrators

One way to understand the phenomena of workplace violence is to explore its many manifestations. Here are OSHA's categories for workplace violence:

* Type I: The perpetrator has no legitimate relationship to the workplace and usually enters it to commit a robbery or other criminal act.

* Type II: The perpetrator is the recipient of services, e.g. a current or former client, patient, passenger, criminal suspect, or prisoner.

* Type III: The perpetrator has an employment-related involvement with the workplace. Usually this involves a current or former employee, supervisor or manager; a current or former spouse or lover of an employee; or a relative or friend of a current or former employee.

One of the most serious threats posed by perpetrators with no legitimate relationship to the workplace (Type I) comes from people who hold strong antigovernment beliefs. Local governments should realize that the anger and resentment these individuals hold toward the federal government easily generalizes to state, county, or city entities. While many individuals focus their rhetoric on federal actions like Ruby Ridge and Waco, they can view local officials with the same suspicion, resentment, and distrust. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Protecting against Workplace Violence
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.