Who is at risk for workplace violence?

By Shawn Starry C.E.O.

With the rising tide of violence through out the world, more and more people demanding for "convenience " as 'rights' are taking to the streets to inflict pain on others who do not see their point of view. And often, very often on a daily basis many of those who work in service, to the people are at the highest risk. We have a list of the top 5 professions that carry the highest risk, and what the individual can do to focus on prevention, deterring, and defense.

-security guards and the police services;

-nurses and other health professionals;


-public transport workers;

-catering and hotel workers

With security and police working face to face with individuals, enforcing policy or law more individuals have taken more physical aggression to hurt security and law enforcement officers when breaking laws. Police go through more training than security when enforcing law, security is now being targeted as well . Security officers do have a very diffrent form of training but enforce policy their clients want.

Some form of training security recieve are use of force, verbal judo, gun training, deescalation and other in house training focused on deterring. While security is limited, they can detain an individual if a felony is broken or if a physical threat is imminent. But must contact police, and turn the individual over to the police.

Nurses work very closely with sick or injured individuals on a daily basis. With medicine reactions, inmates, or people with post traumatic stress disorder, nurses are often subjected to physical, emotional and mental attacks. While many nurses dont recieve enough training on personal defense, they risk physical injuries.

Careworkers often work in nursing homes or at the individuals homes, they are almost never educated in personal defense. The turn over rate due to injury is at an all time high.

Public Transportation officials face direct attacks daily, because while driving a 20 ton vehicle, their backs are turned to the crowd of individuals riding buses. One group of transportation workers that are often over looked are Uber or Lyft drivers. No training comes to them from their employers because of business model they have. Uber and Lyft drivers are individuals who drive their own personal vehicles. An rider can request, and pay online to recieve a ride. Those companies have a generalized form of written summary for the drivers, often signing waivers to protect them from drivers liabilities.

Catering and hotel workers face a higher form of sexual assaults from individuals than most other professions. Most of catering and hotel staff are women. They do not recieve inhouse or out-house training by their companies on personal defense like police do.

Workplace violence is defined as any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation or threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site. With this definition, work place violence incidents range anywhere from a theft or a robbery at a convenience store to a full blown terrorist attack that impacts your organization. When developing your workplace violence prevention plan, it is critical that you understand exactly what workplace violence entails. Steven M. Crimando, Principal, Behavioral Science Applications, outlined five types of workplace violence you should be ready for:

Type One – Criminal Intent

Criminal intent workplace violence incidents is when the perpetrator has no relationship with the targeted establishment and the primary motive is theft. This type is generally a robbery, shoplifting or trespassing incident that turns violent. The biggest targets of criminal intent violence are workers who exchange cash, work late hours or work alone.

Type Two – Customer/Client

During a customer/client workplace violence incident, the perpetrator is a customer or client of the employer and the violence often occurs in conjunction with the worker’s normal duties. The occupations with the highest risk for customer/client violence are healthcare and social service workers whom are four times more likely to be a victim than the average private sector employee, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Type Three – Worker-to-Worker

This type of workplace violence incident is generally perpetrated by a current or former employee, and the motivating factor is often interpersonal or work-related conflicts, or losses and traumas. The group highest at risk for this type of workplace violence incident is managers and supervisors.

Type Four – Domestic Violence

Domestic violence in the workplace oftentimes is perpetrated by someone who is not an employee or a former employee. This type of incident is frequent because the abuser knows exactly where his/her spouse will be during work hours. Women are targeted much more frequently than men, and the risk of violence increases when one party attempts to separate from the other.

Type Five – Ideological Violence

Ideological workplace violence is directed at an organization, its people, and/or property for ideological, religious or political reasons. The violence is perpetrated by extremists and value-driven groups justified by their beliefs. Many of the recent active shooter and terrorist incidents across the globe fall under this bucket.

One of the most impactful forms of workplace violence recently has been active shooter incidents

The solution:

De Esclation and Resolution Training Tips:

And if you have workers who routinely deal with angry customers, you know how things can get out of control, and that workers need a strategy for resolving those situations.

That’s where conflict de-escalation techniques come in handy.

Anticipating potential conflict is important for preparedness, and there are many verbal and non-verbal cues to be mindful of as situations unfold.

For recognition, here are some signs of conflict escalation:

A person clenching his or her fists or tightening and untightening their jaw.A sudden change in body language or tone used during a conversation.The person starts pacing or fidgeting.A change in type of eye contact.The “Rooster Stance” – chest protruding out more and arms more away from the body.Disruptive behaviors – Such as yelling, bullying, actively defying or refusing to comply with rules.

So what can you do in order to help de-escalate a conflict situation? Here are some tips, and remember, this isn’t a step by step list, but rather a menu of options that may prove useful...

And remember, without specialized training; never consider the use of physical force as your first response.

First, calm yourself before interacting with the person.If you’re upset, it’s only going to escalate the situation. Calm down and then begin to look at the situation and how you can intervene safely.Take a deep breath.Use a low, dull tone of voice and don’t get defensive even if the insults are directed at you.Becoming aware of your situation is also critically important. This can include:Other people in the room,Objects; such as chairs, tables, items on a table,and the space around you, like exits or openings, and if you are blocking the person so that they are made to feel trapped.Try to look as non-threatening as possible.Appear calm and self-assured even if you don’t feel it.Maintain limited eye contact and be at the same eye level. Encourage the customer to be seated, but if he/she needs to stand, stand up also.Maintain a neutral facial expression.Place your hands in front of your body in an open and relaxed position. Don’t shrug your shoulders.Don’t point your fingers at the person.Avoid excessive gesturing, pacing, fidgeting, or weight shifting.Maintain a public space distance, which is 12 feet or more.Make a personal connection. Something as simple as asking, “What’s your name?” can diffuse a situation quickly.People respond positively to their own name and can make the dialogue more personal.Listening to the persons concerns. - Acknowledge the other person’s feelings without passing judgment on them.Empathy needs to be shown during conflict situations. Even if you do not agree with the person’s position, expressing an understanding why that person feels a particular way will help resolve the conflict.Clarifying, paraphrasing and open-ended questions all help to ensure that the person is aware you have understood their frustrations completely.Ask to take notes.Ask for their ideas or solutions.Help them talk out angry feelings rather than act on them.Shift the conversation to the future, create hope, and you make yourself less threatening.Using “what” and “we” helps include the person in those future plans.Get them to say yes.It is very hard for someone to stay angry towards you if they are agreeing with you.

No person, group, or set of conditions can guarantee that a conflict will proceed constructively.

If de-escalation is not working, stop!

If the situation feels unsafe, leave and call for help.

Remember to be patient, calm and aware of the situational surroundings should a conflict arise in your workplace.

Most importantly, have a plan to protect yourself if the worst case scenario unfolds; how do you escape, defend your life, or protect other colleagues.

Taking classes that teach hand to hand combat, like Krav Maga, Judo, etc can increase your chances of survival. If your like 100 million Americans who carry a firearm, learn the rules of your local state, town or employer rules. If you opt to carry, take gun safety, concealed carry weapons training and civilian tatical training. Dont just stop at buying a gun. Ignorance is no excuse. Educate yourself.

If your like some people, who prefer not to own or carry a gun, learn how to use other methods like force multipliers such as mace, ( wasp spray does not work) , stun gun, etc.

Making a plan ahead of time, drill those plans, adjust, and drill often will increase your chances. Watching youtube videos of certified instructors on these matters helps increase your planning, but does not substitute from taking actual classes on self protection.

When working in an office setting, closely to an individual; it's good to place barriers between you and the individual. Keeping yourself from arms reach, no sharp or blunt objects laying around, placing your desk between you and the individual so your face to face. It's the little things that count.

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