Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Research Paper on Workplace Violence

Research Paper on Workplace Violence

From early years we are taught to watch out for the dangers out there in the world. We are also taught that the world we are living in is violent and we should be constantly aware that this violence can interfere with our lives. It is not complicated to give examples of violent things in the world we have to watch out for. We all know that at night some neighborhoods are dangerous and violent, thus we restrain from going there in the late hours. We all know that one should be careful with people he/she does not know, because these people may come out to be treacherous and brutal. We actually came to be familiar with possible sources of violence and in some way managed to live in today’s world.

 However, in the last couple of years much attention is given to a new kind of violence. Surely, this type of violence is not new, and it has been present for centuries, though it has received publicity only in the last couple of years. The type of violence I am talking about is the workplace violence.

As the name suggests, workplace violence is violence or the threat of violence against workers at the place of their work.  Workplace violence ranges from verbal threats and abuse to physical attacks, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening, disruptive behavior and homicide. In fact, physical assaults and murders are actually the leading causes of job-related deaths.


Without a shadow of doubt, workplace violence can occur everywhere: in a little grocery store on the outskirts of the city as well as in a big corporation situated in the downtown. The environment does not always have to be the stressor that leads to the occurrence of violence incident. An employee may be experiencing psychological problems, be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or suffering from familial stress. Workplace violence may occur with and be committed by individuals of different genders, all races, religions and financial statuses. However, some workers tend to be more at risk to face workplace violence. One of the groups of workers that has an increased risk of workplace violence are the workers who exchange money, deliver passengers, goods, or services. 

Another group, are those people who work alone or in small groups during late nights or early morning hours in high-crime areas. One more group of possible victims are employees that work in the community or home settings, such as visiting nurses, social care workers, gas, electricity and water utility employees, phone and cable TV installers, and other professionals of this kind. Additionally, the group that suffers one of the biggest rates of workplace violence includes the taxi drivers.

The description of vulnerable groups above makes it clear to define what actually makes a workplace or a job dangerous. However, lower I would like to one more time draw out the characteristics of violent workplaces that the above professions have in common. First of all, violence often occurs when one works alone or with a very small group of people (1). In such cases the offender chooses to attack the plaintiff because he understands that the latter would not be able to do anything to protect him/herself. Secondly, violence often occurs in the home setting (2), where the worker is alone with the offender at his house. In such cases the offender feels his/her power over the victim because the violence occurs in the setting familiar to him/her. Thirdly, workplace violence is often to occur in competitive environments (3) because of a strong desire for domination. Lastly, violence occurs in the workplaces with strictly hierarchical settings (4), where one individual feels privileged over another (A Comprehensive Guide for Employers and Employees).

Workplace violence can be divided into four main types that are: violence by strangers, violence by customers or clients, violence by coworkers, violence by personal relations. The violence by strangers (1) involves threats and harassment by people who do not have legitimate business relations to the workplace. Such type of workplace violence occurs when a stranger enters the premises of the workplace with an intention of robbery, murder, harassment or rape. This type of workplace violence annually takes away millions of lives worldwide. Violence by customers (2) or clients involves verbal or physical attacks by assailants who either receive services from the individual, or are under the custodial supervision of the affected workplace or the victim. In certain industries this type of violence occurs on every day basis. This kind of violence is usually conducted by individuals with criminal record or mental disabilities, in this case the ways of prevention are well-recognized. 

Additionally, this kind of violence can be situational and can occur because the client or customer is unsatisfied with goods or services. Violence by coworkers (3) is the physical or verbal assaults by people who have employment related involvement with the workplace.  As it has been mentioned, this type of violence may occur in every setting and it accounts for a much smaller proportion of the fatalities than violence by strangers.  Lastly, the violence by personal relations (4) is violent actions conducted by assailants who confront an individual with whom he/she has or had a personal relationship outside of work. This violence is usually targeted at ex spouses, girl/boyfriends that are working together with the assailant (A Comprehensive Guide for Employers and Employees).  

It is possible to draw up a list of setting that can signal workplace violence. These indicators/signals are as follows. Firstly, these are threatening, harassing, bullying, aggressive, or other inappropriate behavior towards individual or individuals. Secondly, these are constant and aggressively-carried-out conflicts with customers, co-workers, or supervisors.

It is obvious that the employers should be eager to prevent workplace violence. They should be interested in such prevention because it will help them maintain content and healthy employees that will work satisfactorily and this will also help them maintain the right corporate imagine. The first means that can be taken to prevent workplace violence is creating a sound prevention plan that is only a small part of agency’s workplace violence program (Bowie, Fisher, pp. 229-232). In the framework of the plan the agency should develop the following programs: Pre-Employment Screening that includes working out special pre-employment screening techniques that would provide full information about the possible employees. It is vital to develop a security program that will ensure employee safety. Techniques for security program may include employee photo identification badges, guard services, and individual coded key cards for access to the premises. It is useful for an agency to create a Threat Assessment Team that will work with management to assess the possibilities of workplace violence and develop and execute a plan to address it (Dealing with Workplace Violence, a Guide for Agency Planners). Nevertheless, the most essential part of workplace violence prevention is training. Training is necessary for employees, managers, and supervisors. Training will raise awareness of the concept and will prepare the employees to respond to such unfortunate occurrences (The USDA Handbook on Workplace Violence Prevention and Response).

To conclude the paper I would like to say that our society has become increasingly technological, industrialized and mobile. We managed to set foot on the Moon, to create computers with extraordinary abilities, we  came up with a way to fit a phone, a computer, a camera, a music player and many other functions into one device. It seems that we have managed to accomplish everything we had to and we are continuing to create new things. When thinking about it, a question may arise, if we are so creative and successful when it comes to technological devices, why can not we also come up with solutions that will stop workplace violence and violence in general. The question is sound, though when it comes to people things cannot be as black and white as they are when it comes to machinery and technology.

As sad as it is, being violent is in the nature of people. Coworkers get jealous of each others’ success and some of them, who are not mentally stable, take this anger out on the successful counterparts. 

This is unfortunate, however this is unavoidable. People setting higher positions often abuse people who work under them and who are less influential than they are. This is also unfortunate, but this is unavoidable. In my opinion, it is indeed vital to create and implement employee protection programs and do everything in order to stop violent cases. At the same time, even with the best awareness and prevention programs it is often impossible to change the human nature. Consequently, sadly, cases of workplace violence will continue to occur. __________________________________________________________
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