Module 1: Overview of Workplace Violence


Workplace violence is a major public health concern in both government and the private sector. Workplace homicides represent the tip of the iceberg only; the bigger problem, in terms of the numbers of individuals affected, and the costs to organizations, are behaviours which fall short of causing death. These include threats, sexual harassment, inappropriate conduct, and incidents of both psychological and physical aggressivity.

Workplace violence includes conduct that can occur within or outside of the workplace. In the latter case, the conduct reflects back to the workplace environment.

The causes of workplace violence are multifactorial, and include both risk factors intrinsic to the workplace as well as perpetrator variables. An understanding of the risks stemming from not only a deteriorating worker, but from the workplace environment, is essential in order to quantify that risk, and reduce or eliminate it. Scientifically based risk assessment is the most essential component of assessing the likelihood of a violent incident occurring within the workplace both in the foreseeable and long-term future.

It is incumbent upon the workplace to develop and put in place a comprehensive workplace violence and harassment policy, and a protocol and disclosure mechanism so that workers and management can feel safe, listened to, and ultimately, protected when there is evidence of the possibility of a violent incident.

At the conclusion of this workshop, the participant will have an understanding of the nature and scope of the workplace violence problem, its impact on the workplace, the causes of workplace violence from both perpetrator and systemic points of view, and how to recognize an emerging problem. The participant will also be familiar with the options available to manage workplace violence.