One of the earliest reported cases of workplace violence occurred in 1917 when a disgruntled patrol officer killed a New Orleans police chief and a police captain. The officer was upset over being terminated from the force for excessive absences. He requested reinstatement, which the chief granted, but just prior to the hearing, the officer burst into the chief’s office and shot him repeatedly. The officer had a history of mental illness (Complete Workplace Violence Prevention Manual, 1994: 2).
According to the Bureau of labor Statistics’ Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), there were 674 workplace homicides in 2000, 11 percent of the 5,915 fatal work injuries in the United States. Bureau of Justice Statistics data indicate U.S. residents suffered an annual average of 1.7 million violent workplace victimizations during the last decade.
In addition to those non-fatal workplace crimes against people 12 years of age and older, there were about 900 workplace-related homicides annually during that decade. Workplace violence overall account for 18 percent of all violent crimes. In California in 1997, for example, 636 workers died on the job, with more than 20 percent of those deaths resulting from homicide (Metcalfe, 1999). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that approximately 5,300 women die annually as a result of homicide. In other words, homicide is the leading cause of occupational injury deaths for women – 41 percent for females compared to 10 percent for males (Center for Disease Control, www.cdc.gov /).
Since that decade, there have been an increasing number of violent acts by intruders at workplaces. This criminal violence resulting in the death or physical injury of an employee or business invitee is called workplace violence. It is an expression of anger. The definition of workplace violence should also include psychological abuse at a workplace because such activities can lead to stress or physical abuse.
The reasons for workplace vary, but increased stress in the workplace, unrealistic goals, a jilted lover, and rudeness from clients, colleagues and bosses are some major contributors. Some workers report that workplace stress has caused them to strike a co-worker, verbally attack co-workers, or damage office equipment or machinery. Of course, some violence in the work setting is also due to outside assailants or predators – with robbery as the primary motive.
The VonFrederick Group will address the dynamics of workplace violence. Theories and practicum are drilled to enable employers, managers, and employees, to recognize and respond to signs long before violence occurs. The practicum concludes with strategies that business owners and executives can take to reduce the threat of workplace victimization.