Workplace Violence Warning Signs and Potential Indicators

  • Published
  • By Ryan Finnegan
  • 412th Electronic Warfare Group
As our Nation continues through this period of economic challenge, any one of us could be impacted directly or influenced indirectly through increased stress, not only at home, but in the workplace. Therefore, it is imperative that everyone, not just supervisors and leadership, understand the categories and indicators of workplace violence.

Workplace violence falls into four broad categories:

TYPE 1: Violent acts by criminals who have no other connection with the workplace but enter to commit robbery or another crime. This type of violence accounts for about 80 percent of all incidents.

TYPE 2: Violence directed at employees by customers, clients, patients, students, inmates, or any others for whom an organization provides services.

TYPE 3: Violence committed against coworkers, supervisors, or managers by a current or former employee.

TYPE 4: Violence committed in the workplace by someone who doesn't work there, but who has a personal relationship with an employee - an abusive spouse or domestic partner.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statics, from 2004-2008, an average of 564 work-related homicides occurred each year in the United States. In 2008, a total of 526 workplace homicides occurred, or 10 percent of all fatal work injuries. According to the FBI report, Workplace Violence Issues in Response, from 1993-1999 there was on average 1,744,300 incidents of workplace violence per year ranging from simple assault to homicide.

There are numerous sources that list a variety of workplace violence indicators. Being that we are a federal installation, we will use the Office of Personnel Management, Dealing with Workplace Violence; A Guide for Agency Planners. No one can predict human behavior and there is no specific profile of a potentially dangerous individual. However, indicators of increased risk of violent behavior are available.

They include:
  • Direct or veiled threats of harm;
  • Intimidating, belligerent, harassing, bullying, or other inappropriate and aggressive behavior;
  • Numerous conflicts with supervisors and other employees;
  • Bringing a weapon to the workplace, brandishing a weapon in the workplace, making inappropriate references to guns or a fascination with weapons;
  • Statements showing a fascination with incidents of workplace violence, statements indicating approval of the use of violence to resolve a problem or statements indicating identification with perpetrators of workplace homicides;
  • Statements indicating desperation (over family, financial and other personal problems) to the point of contemplating suicide;
  • Drug or alcohol abuse; and
  • Extreme changes in behavior.
  • If you notice any of these signs you should notify your supervisor immediately. Supervisors should contact the 95th Security Forces Squadron. If you feel the situation will or has escalated into an emergency, then immediately call 911 from a land line or, from a cell phone, 277-3340, the Security Forces Operations Desk.
Editor's note: Mr. Finnegan works as a security specialist for the 412th EWG.