Preventing Workplace Violence
Violence is all around us; we see it portrayed in one form or another everyday. It has become commonplace to see it on TV and in our own environment. To the average person this has become an acceptable part of life, along with taking personal precautions to prevent it from happening to them. However, there are a small few that need attention and see violence as a way to get their message across. Unfortunately, the media is right there to dramatize it for all to see. As future public administrators we must be aware of potential workplace violence from not only potential customers but from our employees and co-workers as well. We must equip ourselves with the tools necessary to prevent the potential for workplace violence to protect our employees, customers and ourselves. The ability to identify which workplaces have a higher risk factor then others will be to our benefit and add to our effectiveness as an administrator.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) defines workplace violence as any physical assault, threatening behavior or verbal abuse occurring in the work setting. It includes but is not limited to beatings, stabbings, suicides, shootings, rapes, near suicides, and psychological traumas, such as threats, obscene phone calls, an intimidating presence, and a harassment of any nature. As a public administrator, you are on the front-line dealing with the public everyday. As in any other customer service field people come into those offices or stores because they need help or a particular service. When various “stress factors are combined, a person may commit, or threaten to commit, violence. Unless these emotional, angry, or frustrated individuals are handled properly, they may harm you, themselves, or other customers. Sometimes even coworkers—perhaps under a great deal of stress because of problems at work or home—may become threatening or violent… Many experts believe that there is no sure way to prevent acts of violence in a place serving customers.” (1) As a result, workplace violence has become an increased concern in the United States.
From 1980-1989 nearly 7,600 workers were workplace homicide victims in the United States. (3) In 1998 there were 6,026 fatal work injuries in the United States, 709 were workplace homicides. (2) Assaults and threats of violence at work equal almost 2 million a year. An average of 1.5 million a year for simple assault, 396,000 aggravated assaults, 51,000 rapes and sexual assaults, 84,000 robberies, and 1,000 homicides. The average risk rate for various occupation is as follows (per 1,000): Police officers 306, private security guards 218, taxi drivers 184, prison guards 117, bartenders 91, mental health professionals 80, gas station attendants 79, convenience, liquor store clerks 68, mental health custodial workers 63, junior high/middle school teachers 57, bus drivers 45, special education teachers 41, high school...