Preventing Workplace Violence

10 Best Ways to Recognize and Prevent Workplace Violence

  1. Know the Warning Signs: Early recognition of potential violence can be crucial. Signs might include aggressive behavior, verbal threats, excessive alcohol or drug use, and overt mentions of weapons.
  2. Promote a Positive Workplace Culture: Foster respect and tolerance in your work environment. Encourage teamwork, and recognize employee achievements to build a positive workplace culture.
  3. Zero Tolerance Policy: Implement a strict zero-tolerance policy towards workplace violence. This policy should cover all workers, patients, clients, visitors, contractors, and anyone else who may come in contact with company personnel.
  4. Encourage Employee Input: Allow employees to participate in safety strategy meetings to share their ideas and insights on how to reduce risks of workplace violence.
  5. Respond Promptly: If an incident of violence is reported, respond immediately. Prompt action can prevent escalation and helps to mitigate further risks.
  6. Regular Training: Conduct regular training sessions to ensure that all employees are aware of the protocols to follow in case of an emergency related to violence.
  7. Secure the Environment: Regularly evaluate and update security measures around the workplace. Ensure that all potential safety measures are in place and fully functional.
  8. Monitor and Evaluate: Regularly monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of your prevention strategies. Revise and improve them as necessary, based on feedback and incident reports.
  9. Supportive Exit Interviews: Conduct exit interviews that can provide critical insights into the underlying causes of workplace tensions and conflicts.
  10. Maintain Comprehensive Records: Keep detailed records of any incidents of violence, including verbal altercations. This documentation can be invaluable in adjusting policies or procedures to prevent future incidents.

Workplace violence is an issue of growing concern across various industries globally. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines workplace violence as any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site. From physical assaults to threats of violence, approximately two million American workers report having been victims each year. OSHA, while not having specific standards for workplace violence, provides guidelines and recommendations to help employers and employees minimize risks and foster a safer work environment.

OSHA’s Stance on Workplace Violence

OSHA holds that employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their workers. Under the General Duty Clause of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act, employers are required to protect their employees from recognized serious hazards in the workplace, including the hazards of workplace violence.


How to Prevent Workplace Violence

  1. Risk Assessment: Regularly conduct and update a risk assessment to identify potential sources of violence, including assessing the workplace layout, the job functions, and previous incidents of violence.
  2. Develop a Comprehensive Prevention Program: Create a workplace violence prevention program that includes policy statements, program goals, and clear plans for reducing the risk of violence. This should be integrated into the organization’s safety and health program.
  3. Training for Employees: Provide training for all employees on what constitutes workplace violence, including company policies on violence, how to recognize signs of potential violence, and what to do if they experience or witness such behaviors.
  4. Implement Engineering Controls: Modify the workplace and the job itself to reduce exposure to potential violence. This could include installing better lighting, security cameras, alarm systems, and minimizing public access to certain areas.
  5. Use Administrative Controls: Changes in work practices and policies can significantly reduce exposure to violence. This might include procedures for cash handling, securing entrances and exits, or providing adequate staffing in high-risk areas.
  6. Foster a Supportive Environment: Encourage open communication between management and staff to discuss issues concerning workplace violence in a non-threatening way. This can include having a confidential method for reporting incidents.


Workplace violence is a serious safety and health issue that spans all industries. OSHA’s guidelines, while not specific standards, provide a critical framework for addressing these risks. Employers can significantly reduce the likelihood of incidents by proactively establishing a culture of safety and respect, combined with strategic preventive measures. The key to success lies in recognizing potential dangers.