Ensuring Employee Safety Through Workplace Violence Prevention

Uphold employee well-being and foster a positive work culture by implementing effective workplace violence prevention programs.

employee doing their best to prevent workplace violence

What is Workplace Violence Prevention?

Workplace violence prevention refers to the policies, procedures, and practices that identify, mitigate, and manage potential acts of aggression, intimidation, or violence in the workplace. Its primary objective is to maintain a safe environment, upholding the physical and psychological safety of employees.


According to the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), an estimate of two million Americans experience some form of violence in the workplace every year. Unfortunately, some of these cases resulted in grave injuries and fatalities. With troubling statistics across the board, establishing a comprehensive workplace violence prevention program should be any company’s primary concern.

Aside from protecting workers from harm, preventing workplace violence benefits organizations in many ways. Boosting morale enhances engagement and productivity, leading to increased revenues. Besides regulatory compliance, proactively managing these risks saves the company on medical costs, legal fees, and compensation claims. Best of all, organizations that demonstrate commitment to the prevention of workplace violence appeal to top talent and the general public.

Implementation of Workplace Violence Prevention Programs

Preventing violence in the workplace is an ongoing process. Because it is considered a workplace hazard, programs addressing this must be integrated into the company’s overall health and safety programs. Here is a step-by-step guide to effective implementation with reliable workplace violence prevention strategies:

Step 1: Conduct a Comprehensive Risk Assessment

This foundational step helps health and safety teams understand the likelihood and potential impact of violent incidents and guides them in developing specific protocols. Conducting a comprehensive risk assessment on your workplace safety often involves doing the following:

  • Engaging all stakeholders and gain a clear understanding of their experiences and possible risks.
  • Using standardized tools to rank risks based on likelihood and focus on areas that expose employees to danger.
  • Hiring external experts or consultants to provide the company with unbiased assessments.

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Step 2: Establish Clean Policies and Procedures

Based on the company’s goals and the comprehensive risk assessment, the subsequent phase involves developing a framework to prevent and handle incidents like verbal threats, harassment, and physical assault.

Aside from establishing policies and procedures that define acceptable behavior and detailing the consequences of violations, it is crucial to handle incidents consistently. A zero-tolerance policy is the best workplace violence prevention plan.

Step 3: Establish Physical Security Measures

Setting up physical security protects company assets and workers. Aside from deterring potential perpetrators, it creates a sense of calm and safety that helps employees focus on work. Here are some security measures to consider implementing:

  • Access control systems, such as PINs, entry codes, digital badges, sensor keys, and automated alarms ensure that only authorized personnel can enter the facility.
  • Controlled entry points, such as turnstiles and gated entrances, help manage physical access.
  • Reinforced perimeter fencing and barriers deter entry.
  • Video surveillance provides extensive coverage, immediate alerts, and visual evidence of incidents and unauthorized access.
  • On-site security guards and patrols provide a visible presence and quick response to incidents.

Step 4: Provide Training and Education

Numerous kinds of violence occur in the workplace. Apart from escalations of arguments between workers, managers should not ignore domestic violence spillover and active shooter incidents. Drills and simulations should be included in the safety training program and conducted as well.

However, fostering a culture of awareness and vigilance is the most proactive way to reduce the likelihood of incidents. Take the time and allocate the necessary resources for training focused on recognizing and responding to potential violence.

Here are the top 7 tips to prevent workplace violence by recognizing the signs:

  • Be conscious of direct or veiled threats. Comments about inflicting harm should be taken seriously.
  • Watch out for signs of visible anger, such as raised voices, rapid breathing, flushed cheeks, and sweating. Unusual or aggressive behavior
  • Monitor persistent disregard for rules (e.g., frequent absences, tardiness, condescending attitude) because these show a lack of respect for authority and the organization.
  • Obsessive acts like stalking or compulsive surveillance of coworkers are a potential risk for violence.
  • Identify significant changes in behavior, including unusual sarcastic remarks, sudden outbursts of anger, or increased irritability.
  • Constant absenteeism, getting off work early, decreased productivity, and blaming others for their mistakes are signs of substance abuse, which may escalate to aggressive actions.
  • Preoccupation with weapons (e.g., frequently discussing or displaying weapons) shows an unusual interest in violence.

Speaking to the employee about the incident and getting to the bottom of the issue may help defuse the situation. However, some indicators require reporting.

Step 5: Create Incident Reporting, Investigation, and Response Systems

These systems aim to document workplace violence, determine the root causes of the incident, and provide immediate support and assistance to victims. The framework empowers employees to speak up when they see something troubling. Here are some best practices to take note of:

  • Reporting Mechanisms – One of the best ways to prevent workplace violence is to enable workers to reveal vital information when they cannot handle the issue themselves. Aside from guaranteeing confidentiality, the company should offer various reporting options.
  • Extensive Investigation – Develop a systematic approach to gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses, and analyzing data. The final report should include recommendations to reduce the risk of future incidents.
  • Rapid Response – Aside from strictly administering the consequence on the perpetrator and providing emergency care to the victim, there should also be protocols and procedures for supporting everyone affected by the unfortunate event.

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Step 6: Offer Support Systems for Employees

Organizations should not just know how to prevent workplace violence, but they should also learn to provide emotional and psychological support to workers affected by these incidents. Doing so helps foster a supportive and caring workplace culture. Counseling, crisis interventions, and legal advice can reduce the effects of psychosocial hazards, allowing workers to return to their responsibilities and maintain productivity.

Step 7: Review and Update Policies for Continuous Improvements

One of the best tips for preventing workplace violence is to review and update policies and procedures. These should reflect organizational changes, industry trends, and the latest insights from incident reports and employee feedback.

Eunice Arcilla Caburao
Article by

Eunice Arcilla Caburao

SafetyCulture Content Contributor
Eunice Caburao is a content contributor for SafetyCulture. A registered nurse, theater stage manager, Ultimate Frisbee athlete, and mother, she has written a wide range of topics for over a decade. Eunice draws upon her rich, multidisciplinary background to create informative articles about emerging topics on health, safety, and workplace efficiency.