Whose Concern is It?

Clearly, violence in the workplace affects society as a whole.

The economic cost, difficult to measure with any precision, is certainly substantial. There are intangible costs too. Like all violent crime, workplace violence creates ripples that go beyond what is done to a particular victim.

It damages trust, community, and the sense of security every worker has a right to feel while on the job. In that sense, everyone loses when a violent act takes place, and everyone has a stake to stop violence from happening.

Employers have a legal and ethical obligation to promote a work environment free from threats and violence and, in addition, can face economic loss as the result of violence in the form of lost work time, damaged employee morale and productivity, increased workers’ compensation payments, medical expenses, and possible lawsuits and liability costs. As more fully discussed in the sections below, employers’ important roles in violence prevention can include:

  • Adopting a workplace violence policy and prevention program and communicating the policy and program to employees.
  • providing regular training in preventive measures for all new/current employees, supervisors, and managers.
  • Supporting, not punishing, victims of workplace or domestic violence.
  • Adopting and practicing fair and consistent disciplinary procedures.
  • Fostering a climate of trust and respect among workers and between employees and management.
  • When necessary, seeking advice and assistance from outside resources, including threat assessment psychologists, psychiatrists, and other professionals, social service agencies, and law enforcement.

Employees have the right to expect a work environment that promotes safety from violence, threats, and harassment. They can actively contribute to preventive practices by doing the following:

  • Accept and adhere to an employer’s preventive policies and practices.
  • Become aware of and report violent or threatening behavior by coworkers or other

warning signs.

  • Follow procedures established by the workplace violence prevention program, including those for reporting incidents.