“And who has not thought that the impersonal world deserves no better than to be
destroyed by one fabulous sign of his displeasure?”
(J. Bronowski, The Face of Violence)
Workplace violence has become a concern for both public and private companies, and has prompted these companies to implement anti-violence programs.
As well they should, for the Bureau of Justice Statistics shows in their Special Report on Workplace Violence, researched by Dr. Greg Warchol , that in each year for the period of 1992 – 96 more than 2.2 million residents were victims of violent acts while they were working or on duty. (BJS Special Report, July 1998, NCJ 168634)
The most common violent act committed was simple assault with an estimated 1.5 million victimizations each year and then followed by an estimated yearly average of 395,000 aggravated assaults, 51,000 rapes and sexual assaults, 84,000 robberies and 1,000 homicides.
A stranger to the victim committed the majority of workplace crime while less than 1% were intimates. Men were more likely to be the perpetrator and or the victim of violence. In the public arena retail workers had the highest rate of robbery and aggravated assault victimization while police and teachers were the most often victimized in the public arena. 20 % of violent incidents in the workplace involved an armed offender of which a firearm was used fewer than 10% of the time. This is that data that faces all employers in every sector and by which they must base their approach to formulate programs that will help create a safe and comfortable atmosphere for both their employees and their clients.
Many of the conditions that prevail in today’s workplace seem to breed critical incidents. Among them are:
1.) Competitive pressures. Relentless global market forces demand constant changes in methods of production and workplace organization. Employees find themselves having to perform in new ways and more efficiently. In addition, privacy has been eroded by electronic surveillance on the job, drug testing and computerized performance monitoring. Abrasive co-workers or autocratic supervisors create additional stresses. The long-term consequences may be overwhelming psychological stress leading to hostility and outbursts of violent or bizarre behavior.
2.) Domestic dysfunction overspill. Family discord, domestic violence, alcohol and drug abuse, and other social ills intrude into the workplace. According to the U.S. Department of labor, “Seventy four percent of employed battered women are harassed by their abusive partners at work, causing 54 percent to miss at least three full days of work a month and 20 percent to lose their jobs. These figures do not take into account battering that is unreported to employers due to the absence of guaranteed protection and counseling. The total effect and extent of domestic overspill is yet to be recognized.
3.) Changing workplace demographics. Growing ethnic, linguistic,...