What Constitutes Workplace Violence (WPV)?
This is a question that may be surprising for some people. For those of us in the field and who consult in this area, it’s as obvious as the nose on our faces. However, many people not in the WPV, and some in security, field simply don’t realize what actually constitutes an act of Workplace violence.
Most people, even those in security, business management, or legal departments, believe that WPV only occurs when an employee, or former, brings a firearm into the business, with the intention of harming others. Nothing could be further from the truth, even if they want to deny it for liability reasons.
While 85% of all WPV incidents are actually accompanied by another crime i.e. robbery, it takes in many facets to its nature. Here is the list of what can actually be construed as WPV. And some of these may be hard to accept and others you may thunk yourself on the forehead, like a V-8 commercial;
- Arson – if it’s done to harm people in the building
- Vandalism – it can result in safety/security issues and therefore…
- Harassment – either physical or even sexual
- Threats – and this has several layers as well, veiled and etc.
- Actual assaults- this would include throwing items in anger i.e. pens and such
- Verbal assaults – including unnecessary dressing downs by supervisory personnel
- Hoaxes – yes even hoaxes are WPV i.e. bomb threats/or pulling a false fire alarm
- Child & domestic abuse within the business by a customer
Bullying – the person being bullied may just act like a trapped rat and turn the tables
WPV, even in its narrowest form, takes in ANY event that could possibly lead to or incite violence within the workplace. In other words, look at these and think about whether or not they could either cause or cause someone else to commit violence in some form or another.
And yet another aspect of WPV that shocks people is that every single business in the country has been the victim at one point or another. Even one person companies can experience a form of WPV. Only the deadly incidents are reported in the media and get the attention, therefore verbal assaults are not reported, unless a threat is involved.
And what single business person has not been the victim of a verbal assault by an upset customer, patient, student, or otherwise? And whether you want to believe it or not, it happens and will continue to happen.
WPV can best be described as an epidemic to American business. It’s been a buzz word for more than 30 years and is still near the top on most security director lists of potential hazards their companies face. Additionally, in many cases there is literally nothing we can do to prevent it!
Incidents such as child abuse, domestic violence (against customers), armed robberies, and the like are nearly impossible to prevent. And many times when store employees step in to assist the ‘victim’ they will deny an incident or it was merely an accident!
So, what can we do to prevent this problem from following your business and potentially closing it down because of the financial drain? Vigilance, being prepared, and training both yourself and employees is the only way.
Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on workplace violence prevention and other security issues. With numerous interviews, blogs, articles, and 2 books he has proven himself in the security arena for more than 31 years, and 23 studying workplace violence issues.
His latest book ‘one is too Many: Recognizing & Preventing Workplace violence is available for numerous e-book formats. It helps all organizations to reduce their risk and limit their liability of an incident. And it does this by breaking the rules in several ways, as well as following conventional wisdom in others.
He utilizes his years of field knowledge to give real life examples of incidents pulled from both his own experiences and the news headlines. Contact him at 480-251-5197 or Visit his Facebook page (One is too Many), Here you will see and read about other items related to WPV/SV as well as incidents you may not have heard or thought about.