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MSJC > Safety > Violence in the Workplace

Violence in the Workplace


Risk Factors

  • Contact with the public
  • Exchange of money
  • Delivery of passengers, goods, or services
  • Having a mobile workplace such as a taxicab or police cruiser
  • Working with unstable or volatile persons in health care, social service, or criminal justice settings
  • Working alone or in small numbers
  • Working late at night or during early morning hours
  • Working in high-crime areas
  • Guarding valuable property or possessions
  • Working in community-based settings

Prevention Strategies

Environmental Designs

  • Commonly implemented cash-handling policies and procedures such as using locked drop safes, carrying small amounts of cash, and posting signs and printing notices that limited cash is available.  These approaches could be used in any setting where cash is currently exchanged between workers and customers.
  • Visibility and lighting environmental design considerations. Making high-risk areas visible to more people and installing good external lighting should decrease the risk of workplace assaults [NIOSH 1993].
  • Access to and egress from the workplace.  The number of entrances and exits, the ease with which non-employees can gain access to work areas because doors are unlocked, and the number of areas where potential attackers can hide are issues that should be addressed.
  • Numerous security devices may reduce the risk for assaults against personnel. These include closed-circuit cameras, alarms, two-way mirrors, card-key access systems, panic-bar doors locked from the outside only, and trouble lights.

Administrative Controls

  • Staffing plans and work practices such as escorting personnel and prohibiting unsupervised movement within and between campuses.
  • Increasing the number of staff on duty may also be appropriate in any number of settings.
  • The use of security guards or receptionists to screen persons entering the workplace and controlling access to actual work areas has also been suggested by security experts.
  • Work practices and staffing patterns during the opening and closing of establishments and during money drops and pickups should be carefully reviewed for the increased risk of assault they pose to personnel.
  • Policies and procedures for assessing and reporting threats.
  • Procedures for obtaining medical care and psychological support following violent incidents.
  • Training and education efforts are clearly needed to accompany such policies.

Behavioral Strategies

  • Training employees in nonviolent response and conflict resolution  to reduce the risk that volatile situations will escalate to physical violence.
  • Training that addresses hazards associated with specific tasks or worksites and prevention strategies.

    (training should not be regarded as the sole prevention strategy but as a component in a comprehensive  approach to reducing workplace violence.)