According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, workplace violence typically falls into one of four categories. Customize the following information to the type or types for which your workplace is most at risk.
Type I: Criminal intent
In this kind of violent incident, the perpetrator has no legitimate relationship to the business or its employee(s). Rather, the violence is incidental to another crime, such as robbery, shoplifting, or trespassing. Acts of terrorism also fall into this category. Your workplace may be at higher risk of Type I violence if your business:
- Handles cash or drugs
- Could be a target for terrorists
Type II: Customer/client
When the violent person has a legitimate relationship with the business—for example, the person is a customer, client, patient, student, or inmate—and becomes violent while being served by the business, the violence falls into this category. A large portion of customer/client incidents occur in the healthcare industry, in settings such as nursing homes or psychiatric facilities; the victims are often patient caregivers. Police officers, prison staff, flight attendants, and teachers can also become victims of this kind of violence. Your workplace may be at risk for Type II violence if your business involves dealing with:
- Violent individuals such as criminals or those who are mentally ill, or
- Individuals who are confined and under stress, such as airplane passengers who have been sitting on the plane for a long period of time or customers waiting in long lines for a store to open.
Type III: Worker-on-worker
The perpetrator of Type III violence is an employee or past employee of the business who attacks or threatens other employee(s) or past employee(s) in the workplace. All workplaces are at risk for this type of violence, but workplaces at higher risk include those that:
- Do not conduct a criminal background check as part of the hiring process, or
- Are downsizing or otherwise reducing their workforce.
Type IV: Personal relationship
The perpetrator usually does not have a relationship with the business, but has a personal relationship with the intended victim. The category includes victims of domestic violence who are assaulted or threatened while at work. This type of violence can occur in all workplaces, but is most difficult to prevent in workplaces that:
- Are accessible to the public during business hours, such as retail businesses, and/or
- Have only one location, making it impossible to transfer employees who are being threatened.
Once you've identified which types of violence are most likely to occur in your workplace, train your workers on the specific security procedures your employer has developed to prevent these workplace incidents.
Why It Matters
- The vast majority of workplace homicides (85 percent) are Type I violence.
- Only about 3 percent of all workplace homicides result from Type II violence, but this category accounts for a majority of nonfatal workplace violence incidents.
- Type III violence account for approximately 7 percent of all workplace homicides.
- Type IV violence accounts for about 5 percent of all workplace homicides.
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