Every year, millions of American workers report having been victims of workplace violence. In 2017, assaults resulted in 18,400 injuries and 458 fatalities, according to Injury Facts®. Certain industries are more prone to violence than others. Taxi drivers, for example, are more than 20 times more likely to be murdered on the job than other workers, according to OSHA. But make no mistake — workplace violence can happen anywhere.
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, workplace violence falls into four categories: Criminal intent, customer/client, worker-on-worker and personal relationship, which overwhelmingly targets women.
Know the warning signs
Some people commit violence because of revenge, robbery or ideology — with or without mental illness. While there’s no way to predict an attack, you can be aware of behaviors 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.
Have a plan
The deadliest situations involve an active shooter. In this scenario, a lot can happen in the chaotic minutes before police arrive. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security advises staying calm and exercising one of three options:
Run — If there is an accessible escape route, leave your belongings and get out.
Hide — If evacuation is not possible, find a hiding place where you won’t be trapped should the shooter find you, lock and blockade the door and silence your phone.
Fight — As a last resort and only when your life is in imminent danger, attempt to incapacitate the shooter by throwing items, improvising weapons and yelling.