What actually is WPV?
There are many points of view on this question. And I’ve been asked several times what it actually is if it isn’t just someone getting shot at work. The answer surprises people and others dismiss the facts I present.
But I’m going to try and enlighten you as to exactly what constitutes workplace violence (WPV). To me it’s a simple measure to tell you this fact. But the details are the surprising aspect of it.
Every crime inside a business can be construed as workplace violence. That’s right, 100% of them. From a robbery, arson, violent theft, and the like. And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 79% of all WPV incidents fall into this category, the result of another crime.
However, it’s the other 21% that people hear about on the news. Is the next customer going to come over the counter and hit me? Is my co-worker on the edge because of the recent divorce? And what about that student who is into Goth attire and listens to that music? Possibly the patient, or their family, who will go off for a myriad of reasons? Or possibly the college student who phones in a bomb threat because they don’t want to take a test?
These are all scenarios that are reasonably assured of occurring at one time or another. And to be honest it doesn’t really matter the business where it happens. From a hot & humid heavy manufacturing plant, to an office building, to a high school, to a well-respected hospital.
So what else will constitute an act of workplace violence? Here is a short list of the kinds of violence that will be considered workplace violence, by most security people, just not the media or general public;
Threats can come in 4 sizes. From the veiled to the open to the written – including graffiti. And usually they can, and will be, phoned in in the instance of a bomb threat. The idea behind threats, whether they will be carried out or not, is to intimidate people.
And hoaxes will fall under this category as well. It takes investigation, time, & resources to look into these hoaxes and ensure that’s all they are. Again, in the instance of a bomb threat it can take hours and several hundred police man hours. And with the economy and budget cuts as they are…
• Verbal Assaults
How many of us have been the victim of a verbal dressing down? Whether it is for something we actually did wrong or the wrong perception that we did it doesn’t matter. Nor does it matter if it is by a customer, employee, client, or manager, it’s still an assault.
As a security officer/manager I’ve endured hundreds of these. From the ones I heard during strikes in the 80’s with Steelworkers, Teamsters, & Cereal workers to the upset employee who said “You f****** idiot pea brained Barney Fife!”
• Physical Assaults
And what constitutes a physical assault, over and above the firearm, pipe wrench or other heavy object? Has someone ever thrown a coffee cup, stapler, or pencil at you in anger at work? Then that is a physical assault and should be considered an act of workplace violence . Yes, most of the time it may be innocuous, but it is still an assault and in today’s world can lead to someone getting fired or disciplined.
And if you look at the financial ramifications as well as psychological trauma that it may induce. These kinds of workplace violence incidents can cost an employer thousands, if not millions, of dollars. And if the employee takes it to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)…
With more than 15 million Americans a year suffering through various forms of workplace violence, you see how these items are violence in the workplace. And as times get nastier and our stress levels continue to rise, for innumerable reasons, then it will only continue to get worse. Do you have a plan to deal with it?
Another statistic by the Bureau of Labor Statistics is that 70% of businesses have no plan to deal with workplace violence. Those that do, in most of the cases, have only a few sentences or paragraphs for it. And they never elaborate, teach to, or train their employees on the subject. Until it’s too late and they are facing lawsuits because of bullying or a fatal incident.
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 field for 32 years, and 24 studying workplace violence issues. Contact him at 480-251-5197 or Visit his Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/oneistoomany, Here you will see and read about other items related to WPV and other security issues, as well as incidents you may not have heard or thought about. You can also follow me on twitterat @robertsollars2