How Safe Is Your Workplace From Type 2 Violence?

Source: Aleksandr Davydov - 123RF

Any worker who provides a service and comes into direct contact with members of the public is exposed to Type 2 violence.

Type 2 violence is an assault on an employee by a customer, patient, or anyone for which the business provides a service.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 16,890 workers in the private industry experienced trauma from nonfatal workplace violence in 2016. These incidents required days away from work.

Of those victims who experienced trauma from workplace violence:

  • 70% were female;
  • 67% were aged 25 to 54;
  • 70% worked in the healthcare and social assistance industry; and
  • 21% required 31 or more days away from work to recover, and 19% involved 3 to 5 days away from work.

In the same survey, 500 U.S. workers were workplace homicide victims in 2016.2

Of those victims who died from workplace violence:

  • 82% were male;
  • 48% were white;
  • 69% were aged 25 to 54; and
  • 31% were working in a retail establishment, 23% were performing protective service activities.

The perpetrator has a legitimate relationship with the business and becomes violent while being served by the business. The violent act usually occurs while employees are performing their normal job duties.

Police officers, EMS/EMT providers, correctional officers, security guards, or members of the health industry, such as doctors, nurses, orderlies, etc, are examples of employees who work with dangerous people.

Other situations involve irate clients who react violently to the services provided, delays in services, or denials in services.

Restaurant workers are all too familiar with irate and dissatisfied customers. Take the case of a worker at a diner in Madison, AL, recently, where a disgruntled customer inappropriately grabbed a server’s arm and tried to forcefully jam the worker’s hand onto the customer’s plate, apparently because the customer did not receive his silverware quickly enough.

NIOSH categorizes types of workplace violence into four buckets:

  • Criminal Intent: These crimes include robbery, trespassing, shoplifting, and terrorism. The people committing the crime have no relationship with the business or its employees.
  • Customer/Client: A customer or client becomes violent while interacting with the business. Employees in the health care industry are at the highest risk for this type of interaction. Law enforcement officers, teachers, and flight attendants are also at risk.
  • Worker-on-Worker: This type of workplace violence is perpetrated by an employee or past employee who attacks or threatens another employee (past or present).
  • Personal Relationship: Generally, this perpetrator has a personal relationship with the victim (but not the business). Women are overwhelmingly victims in this category.

NIOSH has developed the following guidelines for preventing violence against workers who have contact with the public:

  1. Use physical barriers to protect yourself.
  2. Install silent alarm systems and panic buttons.
  3. Use mirrors and raised platforms.
  4. Use bright and effective lighting.
  5. Make sure that you have enough staff members to ensure a safe working environment.
  6. Use drop safes and post signs to indicate only a limited amount of cash is available.
  7. Use height markers on exit doors.
  8. Use video surveillance equipment to monitor all activity.
  9. Control or limit access to the facility.
  10. Install locks on doors that lead to staff-only areas.

Safety News states that “Employees should be trained to recognize, avoid, or diffuse potentially violent situations; your worksite should be reevaluated for any previously unidentified risks on an ongoing basis.”

Information and resources to protect your workers against workplace violence are available through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.