This sample Workplace Violence Essay is published for informational purposes only. Free essays and research papers, are not written by our writers, they are contributed by users, so we are not responsible for the content of this free sample paper. If you want to buy a high quality essay at affordable price please use our custom essay writing service.
Workplace violence falls under the general category of criminal violence. As defined by Reiss and Roth, it is behavior by persons against persons that intentionally threatens, attempts, or actually inflicts physical harm. There are other forms of workplace violence, not discussed here, that are psychologically nonviolent: ostracism, leaving offensive messages, aggressive posturing, rude gestures, swearing, shouting, name-calling, innuendo, and deliberate silence. According to Perone, an Australian scholar, workplace violence costs American employers between $4 billion and $6 billion annually.
Perone has also pointed out that workplace violence has multiplier effects throughout society. Among those costs for victims are included costs of meeting immediate and future medical expenses, short- and long-term psychological stress, job displacement, and increased fear of crime. For costs to employers, there is loss of property, increased insurance premiums, legal expenses incurred with liability actions, and loss of clients. For society, there are costs in the form of interpersonal difficulties between the victim and his or her intimate partner, elevated costs to the government health care system, and loss of business confidence.
Types of Workplace Violence
In 2001, the University of Iowa Injury Prevention Center published a report describing four types of workplace violence that appear to have some generality.
Type I: Criminal Intent
In Type I offenses, the offender has no legitimate business relationship with the workplace. The primary purpose of the offender is theft with the use of a deadly weapon. High-risk targets are workers who handle large amounts of cash or who work alone. In 1997, this type of workplace violence amounted to 85% of workplace homicides. Although robbery occurs with other types of targets, this type of workplace violence is the most common.
Type II: Customer-Client
In this type of workplace violence, the offender is a client or customer of the victim. The violent act occurs in conjunction with normal duties that occur in the workplace. Examples include mental patients who attack nurses or attendants, attacks on police or correctional personnel, and attacks on bus, taxi, and railway drivers. About 3% of workplace homicides fall in this category.
Type III: Worker-on-worker
Type III workplace violence involves an attack by present or former employees on coworkers. This type of violence, discussed in more detail in a subsequent section, is better known colloquially as “going postal” after a series of attacks on postal workers by other employees. Type III violence accounts for about 7% of workplace homicides nationally.
Type IV: Personal Relationships
The final type of workplace violence includes violence by an offender who has a relationship with the victim, but no one else in the workplace. These types of violence grow out of domestic violence, and the victims are disproportionately female and represent a continuation of domestic conflicts carried to the workplace. About 5% of workplace homicides nationally fall into this final category.
Depending upon the basis of comparison, workplace homicides represent different levels of risk. Compared to other types of homicide nationally, workplace homicides are just 3.7% of 16,204 homicides reported in 2002. But compared to 5,534 occupational fatalities from all causes, workplace homicides are 11%. However, compared to nonfatal forms of workplace violence such as rape/sexual assault, robbery, aggravated and simple assault, workplace homicides are 0.1% of workplace victimization.
Most victims of workplace homicides are salary and wage workers (73.7%) and the remainder (26.3%) are self-employed. The percentage of male victims (77.7%) is much higher than the percentage of female victims (22.3%). However, proportionately, workplace homicides are much higher for females in comparison to males. One study found that 10% to 30% of all workplace deaths were males as compared to 40% to 57% for females. The reason workplace homicides are a leading cause of occupational injury and death for females has to do with their concentration in high-risk occupations such as teachers, social workers, health care workers, and nurses. Females are much less frequently exposed to hazards found in disproportionately male occupations such as heavy machinery, work at elevations, construction, mining, agriculture, and forestry.
There is also a gender difference with respect to weapons used. Although both genders are killed most frequently by firearms, women are disproportionately killed by cutting or stabbing instruments. Drawing on a 1987 study that was the first to notice the disproportionate use of knives, Riedel analyzed 1,239 workplace homicides from 1990 to 1999 in California and also found that women were disproportionately victimized by knives and cutting instruments.
Of the 605 workplace homicides in 2002 for which information was available, 76.2% were between the ages of 20 and 54. With respect to race and ethnicity, 50.9% were White, 18.3% were Black, 17.6% were Hispanic, and 13.2% were members of other racial-ethnic groups.
Workplace homicides have been declining from a high of 1,080 in 1994 to 632 in 2003. When compared to the national decline of other types of homicides, the pattern is similar, which suggests that the causes driving the national decline in homicides is also playing a causal role in decreasing workplace homicides.
Going Postal: A Bad Rap
Going postal has become a pejorative term for workplace violence. The expression is believed to have originated in 1986 when a letter carrier, Patrick Henry Sherrill, shot and killed 14 coworkers and wounded six others at an Edmond, Oklahoma, post office. After shooting and wounding his coworkers, he committed suicide.
In order to understand and address the problem, the Postmaster General, William J. Henderson, authorized a study of the problem by a Columbia University research group. The results indicated that of the 6,179 workplace homicides from 1992 through 1999, only 16 were postal employees; postal employees are only about one third as likely as people in the national workforce to be homicide victims. Indeed, the study concluded that the term going postal was a myth and a bad rap.
Nonfatal Workplace Violence
According to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), there were 1.7 million violent workplace victimizations between 1993 and 1999, which amounted to about 18% of all violent crime for that period. The most frequent form of nonfatal workplace violence is simple assault followed by aggravated assault, robbery, and sexual assault. Trends for this type of workplace violence have been declining.
Nonfatal workplace victimizations are predominantly male. Except for rapes and sexual assaults, males were victimized at higher rates than females. Most of the victimizations occurred in the 20-49 age group with the highest violent victimizations in the 20-34 age group. Whites had the highest victimization rate (13.0 per 1,000), closely followed by Blacks (10.4 per 1,000), and Hispanics (9.7 per 1,000). Many of the victimizations involved simple assault with little or no injury because 72.6% of the workplace victimizations involved no weapons. Firearms were present in 8.1% of attacks while knives and other weapons made up the remainder.
Not all occupations are equally at risk for violent victimizations. In a 1978 study of victim risks using data from the NCVS, Lynch found that occupations that routinely involve face-to-face contact with large numbers of persons and people who work at a single location and handle money as part of the job run the highest risk of workplace violence.
Thus, starting with the highest occupational risk for workplace violence reported in the NCVS, we have law enforcement workers such as police and corrections workers followed by taxicab drivers. The next lowest category are people in retail sales such as bartenders and gas station personnel followed by medical personnel such as nurses.
There is relatively little research on strategies and policies to reduce workplace violence. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has developed a number of prevention strategies primarily for Type I and Type II workplace violence.
This strategy includes making accessible small amounts of cash, locked drop safes, and exploring the feasibility of cashless transaction using debit or account cards. Among other features, NIOSH suggests the use of bullet-resistant barriers for high-risk targets, closed circuit cameras, alarms, and body armor.
Administrative controls include increasing the number of staff in service and retail businesses, using security guards to monitor more closely the opening and closing of businesses, especially during money drops and pickups, and the movement of employees in and out of the business establishment during regular business hours.
Screening and Selection
One of the most effective ways to prevent workplace violence is to identify offenders during the application process. However, it is not an easy task to accomplish because many organizations do not provide information on violent propensities for fear of lawsuits.
Policies and Procedures
There should be an overall policy that no violence of any type will be tolerated. Organizations should provide an atmosphere of open communication with their employees so that they do not take personal actions to solve their problems.
Training for Supervisors and Employees
Both supervisors and employees should be trained to recognize warning signs of violence in others. In addition, both groups should be trained to know what to do in the event of workplace violence.
Employee Assistance Programs
Another way of preventing violence is through offering counseling services to employees. Although some of the problems may originate at work, many problems appear at work because of problems at home.
Employees who have been released from organizations for workplace violence need to be helped to find other employment. Failure to help a person who feels he or she has been unjustly dismissed may lead to further violence.
- Duhart, D. T. (2001). Violence in the workplace, 1993-99 (NCJ 190076). Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics.
- Lynch, J. P. (1978). Routine activity and victimization at work. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 3, 283-300.
- National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse. (2000). Report of the United States Postal Commission on a Safe and Secure Workplace. Retrieved January 2006 from http://www.casacolumbia.org/Absolutenm/ articlefiles/33994.pdf
- Perone, S. (1999). Violence in the workplace (Research and Public Policy Series No. 22). Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology.
- University of Iowa Injury Prevention Center. (2001). Workplace violence: A report to the nation. Washington, DC: Author.
Free essays are not written to satisfy your specific instructions. You can use our professional writing services to order a custom essay, research paper, or term paper on any topic and get your high quality paper at affordable price. UniversalEssays is the best choice for those who seek help in essay writing or research paper writing in any field of study.