Workplace violence

Workplace violence can happen anywhere at any time. It can involve a single victim or it can involve multiple victims.

News media accounts of these shootings, assaults, and other acts of violence at the workplace have heightened awareness of this problem.

Workers in some industries, such as health care, schools, places of worship, shopping malls, restaurants or retail establishments, are more likely than others to experience violence on the job. For that reason, many states have laws that require workplace violence prevention programs.

Know the Warning Signs


Some people commit violence because of revenge, robbery or ideology – with or without a component of mental illness. While there is no way to predict an attack, you can be aware of behaviors in coworkers that might signal future violence:

  • Excessive use of alcohol or drugs

  • Unexplained absenteeism, change in behavior or decline in job performance

  • Depression, withdrawal or suicidal comments

  • Resistance to changes at work or persistent complaining about unfair treatment

  • Violation of company policies

  • Emotional responses to criticism, mood swings

  • Paranoia

Most every "place" is somebody's workplace. So whether you are a patron or an employee, it's important to be alert.

When you hear gunfire, you must quickly determine the most reasonable way to protect your own life.

The Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency recommend the following responses (in order of preference):

  • Evacuate

  • Hide out

  • Take aggressive action

You don’t have much time to decide what to do.

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