Violence in the Workplace

It doesn’t just happen to other companies and there are significant costs associated with it

October 24, 2018

Has your organization ever faced the threat of workplace violence? Are you prepared with a response plan in case of a violent event? Workplace violence, either from the outside or between employees, has become more prevalent over the past decade. Companies that aren’t prepared can suffer loss of business, loss of reputation, loss of productivity due to injuries, and the loss of employees’ lives.


Workplace violence is now the second-leading cause of death on the job and the fourth-leading cause of nonfatal injury. In 2016, the most recent year the federal government has released statistics on the matter, one in every six work-related deaths was attributed to workplace violence. The report went on to state that women are nearly six times more likely to be killed by a relative or domestic partner at work than men.

Between 2000 and 2008, there were on average seven active shooter events every year. From 2008 to 2016, that average nearly tripled to 19 per year (153 events total), according to the FBI and the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center.

Nearly half of active shooters have no evident relationship to where the shooting occurs. But you can take steps before and after an attack to reduce risk, avoid damage and recover faster.

Workplace homicides most frequently occur among retail establishments and transportation operations, retail sales workers (63 deaths), law enforcement agencies (62), supervisors of sales workers (52 deaths) and motor vehicle operators (49 deaths).

  • 291 workers committed suicide at work in 2016, a 27 percent increase from the previous year
  • 866 workers died from work-related violence in 2016
  • 27,000 workplace violence injuries caused lost work time

Hopelessness, uncertainty and toxic work environments that include increased work pressures, workplace bullying and lack of control have most likely contributed to the rise.

The Costs of Not Preparing For Workplace Violence

The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that workplace violence costs 500,000 employees 1.2 million workdays every year and $55 million in lost wages.

According to OSHA, nearly 2 million American workers report that they are victims of some kind of workplace violence each year. Unfortunately, even more instances of violence go unreported. Currently, OSHA does not directly address workplace violence – and future government action is uncertain.

Many of the true costs of workplace violence are more difficult to assess. They may not be immediately obvious but they have long-term effects and consequences.

  • Workplace violence can have a seriously traumatic effect on employees. They may need to stay home from work until they have processed the event; they may even have to be hospitalized. In some cases, they could need extensive therapy or counseling.
  • If customers are present when violence occurs, they can also be traumatized and not want to return. You might have to shut down for a few days to clean up and make repairs. You stand to lose both trust and business.
  • Even when they return to work, your employees may not be as productive because they are still trying to cope with the incident. Your insurance costs might increase depending on how many people were injured or need to seek medical treatment or counseling. You could even be sued or cited for extreme negligence, causing long-term financial and legal problems.
  • During this recovery period, your competitors won’t act like professional cyclists and wait for you to catch up after you’ve fallen. It will be business as usual. And your customers may turn to them while your business is closed or until customers believe it’s safe to go into your establishment. You might even have vendors that avoid working with you because they want to mitigate their own risks.

Long story short, instituting preventive measures and training is ultimately far less costly than doing nothing at all.

MMA Presents Workplace Violence: Before, During, After

Are you in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area? Join us on December 6 for a free seminar tackling this important topic. Register now at the link above!

Download a pdf of this white paper