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Violence In The Workplace: Reducing Occurrences

Violence in the workplace has been identified as a significant cause of occupational injury and death. The workplace may be designated as an office, factory, warehouse, hospital, store or taxicab. It has been determined at approximately 20 workers are killed and 18,000 are physically attacked while at work, thus violence in the workplace results in loss of income through the loss of workdays and wages (Kwesiga et al. , 2007). Workplace violence is more frequently observed in particular work settings.

Retail trade and service industries make up approximately 50% of workplace killings and around 85% of non-fatal attacks at the workplace. It has been observed that taxicab drivers face the greatest risk of workplace murders due to the nature of their occupation. On the other hand, workers in settings such as healthcare, community services and retail are at a heightened risk for non-fatal physical attacks. There are several risk factors that create a scenario that is favorable for violence at the workplace.

The most substantial factors consist of performing transactions with the public, operating using money as the medium for business and delivering products and services. In order to reduce and prevent the incidence of violence at the workplace, prevention strategies have

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been designed that include designing the workplace and educating workers about violence when on duty. For workplaces the frequently handle cash such as retail offices, locked drop safes are often employed to keep the money in the workplace.

In addition, workers that handle cash at the workplace are advised to carry only a small amount of cash, as well as put out a sign or poster that only limited cash is available for transaction at the workplace. Other businesses have explored the option of performing cashless transactions through the use of automatic teller account cards or debit cards. Such measures decrease the frequency of handling cash between workers and customers. It is also advisable that physical barriers between workers and customers be erected at the workplace.

Such separation of the workers from the general public can provide safety to the workers and also serve as a deterrent to those individuals who plan to conduct a robbery at the establishment. This is often observed at gas stations, convenience stores, hospital emergency departments and social services agencies. The counters of these workers are often equipped with bullet-proof windows and allow a limited physical distance between the workers and the potential perpetrators.

However, it should also be considered that such physical barriers should be affect the comfort and ease of the customers and workers in dealing with each other. Proper illumination at the workplace is also a factor that should be checked for prevention of violence at the workplace. The external lighting of the workplace should also be reviewed, so that the establishment is properly lighted and visible. The entrance and exit doors of the workplace should also be well identified for quick movement of workers from violent incidents.

Security devices can also be installed at the workplace, such as security cameras and alarm buttons for access to police enforcers at the moment of any assault. A prevention program for workplace violence should be provided to the employees and this must educate them to follow a technique for documenting incidents of violence as well as what to do during an actual violent incident. More importantly, there should also be open communication between the supervisors and workers at the workplace so that any suspicious or dangerous threat can be quickly reported and monitored.

It has been observed that most of the workplace-related killings are consequences of robbery at the workplace. Any individual can be a victim of violence at the workplace, but those individuals that work at the described industries and occupations are more susceptible.


Kwesiga E, Bell MP, Pattie M and Moe AM (2007): Exploring the literature on relationships between gender roles, intimate partner violence, occupational status, and organizational benefits. J. Interpers. Violence. 22(3):312-26.

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