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Preventing workplace violence: every year, an estimated 1.7 million American workers become victims of workplace violence. More than 600 are murdered while on duty. EAPs can be crucial components of efforts aimed at reducing the impact of violence in the workplace.

According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

 the Labor Department's Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, (1) homicide homicide (hŏm`əsīd), in law, the taking of human life. Homicides that are neither justifiable nor excusable are considered crimes. A criminal homicide committed with malice is known as murder, otherwise it is called manslaughter.  is the third leading cause of occupational death for all workers, exceeded only by motor vehicle incidents and falls. The vast majority of these homicides, approximately 75 percent, occur during a robbery or other crime.

For women, domestic violence often plays a role in occupational fatalities. While only 4 percent of all homicides were committed by a relative or other personal acquaintance of the victim in 2002, 16 percent of the homicides of women in the workplace were committed by current or former husbands or boyfriends.

Unfortunately, homicides are only the tip of the much larger iceberg iceberg, mass of ice that has become detached, or calved, from the edge of an ice sheet or glacier and is floating on the ocean. Because ice is slightly less dense than water about one ninth of the total mass of a berg projects above the water.  of workplace violence. Roughly 1.7 million U.S. workers are victimized by workplace violence each year, a rate of 13 incidents for every 1,000 employees based on data collected during the period 1993-1999. (2)

Employers' costs stemming from incidents of workplace violence can be staggering. While precise data are not available, the average cost per workplace homicide during the 10-year period 1992-2001 was $836,533. (3) Additional costs can be attributed to items such as decreased employee morale and post-traumatic stress counseling. The National Violence Against Women Survey (4) found that a physical assault by an intimate partner or ex-partner resulted in an average of seven days of work lost for the victim in 1995. In addition, there are often legal implications for failing to provide a safe workplace and for negligent hiring Negligent hiring is a cause of action in tort law that arises where one party is held liable for negligence because they placed another party in a position of authority or responsibility, and an injury resulted because of this placement. , firing, and retention.

To help address the complexity of workplace violence, a typology typology /ty·pol·o·gy/ (ti-pol´ah-je) the study of types; the science of classifying, as bacteria according to type.


the study of types; the science of classifying, as bacteria according to type.
 has been developed to help categorize cat·e·go·rize  
tr.v. cat·e·go·rized, cat·e·go·riz·ing, cat·e·go·riz·es
To put into a category or categories; classify.

 incidents into a useful framework. Originally developed by the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration The California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA) enforces the U.S. state of California's occupational and public safety laws and provides information and consultative assistance to employers, workers, and the public regarding workplace safety and health  in 1996 (5) and refined by the University of Iowa Not to be confused with Iowa State University.
The first faculty offered instruction at the University in March 1855 to students in the Old Mechanics Building, situated where Seashore Hall is now. In September 1855, the student body numbered 124, of which, 41 were women.
 in 2001, (6) these categories help employers, researchers, counselors, and worker advocates clearly discuss workplace violence in attempts to better understand its causes. The four categories are:

* Criminal intent, where the perpetrator A term commonly used by law enforcement officers to designate a person who actually commits a crime.  has no legitimate business relationship with the establishment (the primary motive traditionally has been theft, but terrorism has gained increased attention in recent years);

* Customer/client, where the perpetrator has a legitimate relationship with the establishment but becomes violent during the course of a normal business transaction, such as in the healthcare, education, and law enforcement industries;

* Worker on worker, where the perpetrator is a current or former employee of the business and attacks a current worker; and

* Domestic violence in the workplace, where the perpetrator has no legitimate business with the establishment but has a personal relationship with the victim (women are targeted more often than men, but all workers, male and female, can be affected).

Understanding the different sources of workplace violence and addressing the causes within this context will help workplace violence prevention teams develop policies and interventions tailored toward an individual company's needs. Employee assistance professionals are vital components of such teams. They are the work organization's experts on the human component of analysis and planning and have well-established competencies in key program functions, including organizational consultation, education, and evaluation. Their skills and expertise, along with those of human resources The fancy word for "people." The human resources department within an organization, years ago known as the "personnel department," manages the administrative aspects of the employees.  and employee relations professionals and security and safety/health officials, help form the comprehensive approach necessary for preventing violence in the workplace.

EAP (Extensible Authentication Protocol) A protocol that acts as a framework and transport for other authentication protocols. EAP uses its own start and end messages, but then carries any number of third-party messages between the client (supplicant) and access control  ROLE: AN OVERVIEW

Comprehensive workplace violence prevention programs approach Violence from three perspectives: identifying risk factors, preventively managing risk factors, and planning an effective response if a threat or Violent act should occur. The EAP's role in responding to workplace violence incidents is now widely acknowledged. Most organizations realize the EAP plays a key role in assessing the needs of those affected by Violence, providing emotional first aid and referring individuals who need additional help to other professional and community resources. However, the EA professional's potential for contributing to risk identification and management is not always as well understood.

The EA professional's role in workplace violence prevention flows particularly from one of the key EAP direct services defined in the FAP (language) FAP - The assembly language for Sperry-Rand 1103 and 1103A.

[Listed in CACM 2(5):16 (May 1959)].
 Standards and Guidelines guidelines, a set of standards, criteria, or specifications to be used or followed in the performance of certain tasks.
 for Employee Assistance Programs. (7) That direct service is organizational consultation. According to the Standards and Guidelines, "The employee assistance program shall provide consultation to the organization regarding issues, policies, practices and events that may impact employee well-being ... The intent of this standard is to ensure the EAP functions as an integral part of the organization and adds its unique contributions to the realization of the organization's mission and goals." (19-20).

Clearly, according to these standards, the EAP should add its expertise to identifying risk factors and planning for an emergency response. In addition, two other direct EAP services, education and evaluation, provide the EA professional with skills and knowledge that can also be invaluable in a workplace violence prevention program.

We do not advocate that the EAP house the organization's workplace violence program or keep its records. Structurally, the EA professional may be designated a member of an interdisciplinary team interdisciplinary team,
n a group that consists of specialists from several fields combining skills and resources to present guidance and information.
 to plan an organization's workplace violence program; in other situations, the EA professional may prefer to maintain a certain distance from the team by being designated a consultant rather than a member. The precise structure is less important than the care that must be taken to ensure that the ethics and professional practices of the EAP and all other professionals involved are respected and built into the team's functioning.


The first step in developing a workplace violence prevention program is to evaluate the risk factors at the worksite and determine the organization's ability to address the situations related to those risk factors. One of the most effective methods of assessing the potential for workplace violence is to develop a system for documenting violent incidents. Implementing a mandatory reporting mandatory reporting The obligatory reporting of a particular condition to local or state health authorities, as required for communicable disease and substance abuse Infectious disease State boards of health maintain records and collect data resulting from MR of  system to monitor violence within the workplace will allow for the collection of data that can evaluate the presence of risk factors and serve to develop a targeted intervention strategy.

Violence prevention teams often solicit employee input into the threat identification process through questionnaires, focus groups, or other data collection techniques. This practice is helpful at many levels. First, it can alert the team to risk factors they have missed and confirm their judgment about those they have identified. It also sends a message to employees that the organization cares about them and opens the way to additional dialogue in the future.

Research has documented a number of potential risk factors that may increase a worker's risk for assault and/or injury, and the nature and function of the work organization will determine which factors apply to a particular setting (see Figure 1). The EA professional can contribute in several ways to the collection of data and assessment of these risks.


Risk Factors for Workplace Violence

* Contact with the public

* Exchange of money

* Delivery of passengers, goods, or services

* Mobile workplaces, such as a taxicab, police cruiser cruiser, large, fast, moderately armed warship, intermediate in type between the aircraft carrier and the destroyer. During World War II, battle cruisers operated as small battleships, combining in one vessel maximum qualities of gun caliber, armor protection, and , or pizza or other delivery

* Working with unstable or volatile persons, such as in healthcare or criminal justice settings

* Working alone or in small numbers

* Working late-night or early-morning hours Noun 1. early-morning hour - an hour early in the morning
forenoon, morn, morning, morning time - the time period between dawn and noon; "I spent the morning running errands"

time of day, hour - clock time; "the hour is getting late"

* Working in high-crime areas

* Guarding valuable property

* Working in community-based settings

Because of their educational and professional backgrounds, EA professionals can help raise awareness of various risk factors. For example, team members may believe the organization has no problem with intimate partner violence because they aren't aware of specific cases. All organizations face this risk, particularly if they hire women, but victims are often reluctant to come forward for reasons ranging from embarrassment to fear of losing their jobs. The EA professional can emphasize the need to have organizational strategies to encourage victims to come forward and help the organization recognize this as a marker of improvement in the workplace violence prevention program.

Because EA professionals help employees resolve work-related problems and consult with supervisors about management issues, they may be aware of situations that employees find frightening or otherwise stressful. Employees may, for example, fear certain customers of the organization, or they may work in a high-crime area with poor lighting. Without violating the confidentiality of individuals, EA professionals can call such issues to the attention of the workplace violence prevention team.

From patterns of EAP utilization, the EA professional may discern dis·cern  
v. dis·cerned, dis·cern·ing, dis·cerns
1. To perceive with the eyes or intellect; detect.

2. To recognize or comprehend mentally.

 that some areas of the organization produce an unusually high number of cases involving heavy work stress, conflicts in the workplace, poor relationships between employees and supervisors, or other signs of systemic organizational problems. While most employees handle these stresses without resorting to violent behavior, the stress factors may nevertheless increase an organization's potential for violence between employees.

If an EA professional knows of a problem that is limited to one or a few workers, it may be difficult or impossible to raise the issue without potentially violating these clients' confidentiality. In some cases, clients may choose to give written consent for a discussion of their concerns by the team; in other cases, the EA professional may only be able to speak in broad generalities to effectively maintain the trust of both managers and employees.

The EA professional often will emerge as the team member who can best facilitate discussion when other team members find themselves misunderstanding one another. One strategy for fostering understanding among members of an interdisciplinary team is to conduct tabletop exercises with hypothetical cases. A set of case studies for this purpose is available in the Office of Personnel Management's Dealing with Workplace Violence: A Guide for Agency Planners, available on the Web at (8) By reviewing these studies early in the planning process and asking whether such scenarios could occur in their workplace, team members can use the cases as part of the risk assessment process while also becoming acquainted with colleagues' ethical concerns, ways of approaching problems, and use of technical language.


The second step in building a workplace violence prevention program is to develop a strategy that addresses the risk factors identified in the risk assessment and incorporates response vulnerabilities. Three general approaches focus on the elimination or modification of identified risk factors:

* Environmental designs refer to physical security measures Noun 1. security measures - measures taken as a precaution against theft or espionage or sabotage etc.; "military security has been stepped up since the recent uprising"
 and engineering controls to deter potential perpetrators (Figure 2);

* Administrative controls Direction or exercise of authority over subordinate or other organizations in respect to administration and support, including organization of Service forces, control of resources and equipment, personnel management, unit logistics, individual and unit training, readiness, mobilization,  are aimed at developing secure workplaces through the use of safety programs, policies, and business procedures (Figure 3); and

* Behavioral strategies represent training methods used to help employers and employees anticipate, recognize, and respond to potential violence in their workplaces (Figure 4).


Environmental Designs to Address Risk Factors

* Procedures for handling cash, such as locked drop safes and limits on available cash

* Cashless transactions, including the use of ATM account cards and/or debit cards debit card, card that allows the cost of goods or services that are purchased to be deducted directly from the purchaser's checking account. They can also be used at automated teller machines for withdrawing cash from the user's checking account.  

* Physically separating workers from the general public or clients through the use of bullet-resistant glass (as in some banks), higher and deeper counters, and other design changes

* Lighting for better visibility

* Security devices such as cameras, alarms, card-key access systems, and geographic locating devices

* Personal protective equipment such as bulletproof Refers to extremely stable hardware and/or software that cannot be brought down no matter what unusual conditions arise. See industrial strength.

bulletproof - Used of an algorithm or implementation considered extremely robust; lossage-resistant; capable of correctly

* Hiring security firms that specialize in preventing workplace violence


Administrative Controls to Address Risk Factors

* Clear policies regarding workplace violence prevention

* Adequate staff-to-client ratio

* Security guards/receptionists to control access to work areas

* Clear procedures for reporting violent incidents

* Threat management procedures


Behavioral Strategies to Address Risk Factors

* Training in customer service and related issues

* Training in de-escalation techniques, especially in healthcare and other settings where conflict may reasonably be anticipated

* Training in non-violent response, especially in robberies and other crime situations

EA professionals can play multiple roles in the development of environmental designs, administrative controls, and behavioral approaches to prevent workplace violence. When environmental and administrative strategies are being considered, the EA professional can provide a human factors perspective. Will these strategies make an employee feel isolated or claustrophobic claus·tro·pho·bic  
a. Relating to or suffering from claustrophobia.

b. Uncomfortably closed or hemmed in.

? Will an employee be able to communicate adequately with customers? Will the changes affect how customers perceive the organization?

When behavioral prevention strategies are being developed, the EA professional may serve as a trainer or a purveyor (World-Wide Web) Purveyor - A World-Wide Web server for Windows NT and Windows 95 (when available).

E-mail: <>.
 of external training services as well as a consultant. Topics such as dealing with difficult customers, de-escalating tense situations, and resolving conflicts are familiar to most EAPs, and the EA professional can best ensure that training is delivered effectively.

Much of the everyday work of an EAP contributes to violence prevention. An EAP's overarching o·ver·arch·ing  
1. Forming an arch overhead or above: overarching branches.

2. Extending over or throughout: "I am not sure whether the missing ingredient . . .
 goal is a healthy and productive workplace, which is itself a preventive factor in many ways. In a healthy organization, employees feel challenged hut not overwhelmed o·ver·whelm  
tr.v. o·ver·whelmed, o·ver·whelm·ing, o·ver·whelms
1. To surge over and submerge; engulf: waves overwhelming the rocky shoreline.

, trust their leaders, believe in the organization's mission, and see themselves as part of a team. The EA professional contributes to this goal through consultation, teaching, and supervisory and individual assistance. Whether the subject of a training or discussion is resolving conflicts or managing change, it nevertheless contributes to the overall workplace violence prevention mission.


Ideally, all intervention programs should have methods of evaluation to determine their effectiveness. The efficacy and usefulness of workplace violence prevention programs can be determined by collecting data on employee awareness and safety. Because EAPs are charged with evaluating their own programs, EA professionals bring to the table considerable experience in how to design an evaluation process.

Maintenance of existing, effective programs is critical. Some workplace violence prevention plans may require EA professionals to conduct "refresher trainings Refresher training is a form of updating military knowledge of the reservist troops. After one has completed the conscription service, he or she can be called for refresher training for some amount of days. " periodically to maintain high levels of awareness and safety among employees. In addition, because the nature and function of many businesses will change over time in response to the economy and competitive environment, new risk factors may arise during periods of transition. EA professionals may be instrumental in identifying these new risk factors through continual risk assessment, as discussed earlier.

Numerous resources exist for EA professionals to gather information about workplace violence and related prevention issues. Current statistics, recommendations, and guidelines are available on the Web sites in Figure 5. In addition, other organizations can provide different perspectives on the nature of workplace violence and offer solutions applicable to the EAP's clients.


Workplace Violence Prevention Resources

* National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, an institute of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that is responsible for assuring safe and healthful working conditions and for developing standards of safety and health.

* U.S. Office of Personnel Management

* National Center for Injury Prevention and Control

* Occupational Safety and Health Administration Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), U.S. agency established (1970) in the Dept. of Labor (see Labor, United States Department of) to develop and enforce regulations for the safety and health of workers in businesses that are engaged in interstate

* Bureau of Labor Statistics Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

A research agency of the U.S. Department of Labor; it compiles statistics on hours of work, average hourly earnings, employment and unemployment, consumer prices and many other variables.

* National Safety Council

* American Society of Safety Engineers The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), founded October 14, 1911, is the oldest and largest professional safety organization. Its more than 31,000 members manage, supervise and consult on Occupational safety and health and environmental issues in industry, insurance,

* International Labour Organization

* World Health Organization

While a worksite may never have to deal with a violent incident, proper advance planning can not only reduce employee stress and grief but maybe even save a life. Prevention is the best preparation. The roles EAPs play in prevention efforts are essential to reducing the burden that workplace violence imposes on workers and employers.


(1) Bureau of Labor Statistics. 2002. National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, 1993-2002. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Labor.

(2) Bureau of Justice Statistics Noun 1. Bureau of Justice Statistics - the agency in the Department of Justice that is the primary source of criminal justice statistics for federal and local policy makers
. 2001. Violence in the Workplace, 1993-1999. Washington, D.C.: U.5. Department of Justice, NCJ NCJ National Criminal Justice
NCJ National Contest Journal
NCJ New Columbia Joist Co.

(3) Biddle, E., et al. 2004. "Societal so·ci·e·tal  
Of or relating to the structure, organization, or functioning of society.

so·cie·tal·ly adv.

 Costs of Workplace Homicides in the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. , 1992-2001." Submitted to the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.

(4) National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. 2003. Costs of Intimate Partner Violence Against Women in the United States. Atlanta, Ga.: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), agency of the U.S. Public Health Service since 1973, with headquarters in Atlanta; it was established in 1946 as the Communicable Disease Center. .

(5) Barish, R. 2001. "Legislation and Regulations Addressing Workplace Violence in the United States and British Columbia British Columbia, province (2001 pop. 3,907,738), 366,255 sq mi (948,600 sq km), including 6,976 sq mi (18,068 sq km) of water surface, W Canada. Geography
." American Journal of Preventive Medicine preventive medicine, branch of medicine dealing with the prevention of disease and the maintenance of good health practices. Until recently preventive medicine was largely the domain of the U.S.  (20): 149-154.

(6) University of Iowa. 2001. Workplace Violence: A Report to the Nation. Waterloo, Iowa Waterloo is the county seat of Black Hawk County, Iowa, United States. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 68,747. It belongs to the Cedar Falls-Waterloo Metropolitan Statistical Area, and is the larger of the two cities, by population. : Injury Prevention Research Center.

(7) Employee Assistance Professionals Association. 1999. Standards and Professional Guidelines for Employee Assistance Programs. Arlington, Va.: Employee Assistance Professionals Association.

(8) U.S. Office of Personnel Management. 1998. Dealing with Workplace Violence: A Guide jot Agency Planners. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Office of Personnel Management, OWR-09.

Kristi Anderson is an epidemiologist epidemiologist

an expert in epidemiology.
 and Lynn Jenkins Lynn Jenkins (b June 10, 1963) is a Kansas Republican politician and currently the 37th State Treasurer of Kansas. She was elected to the office in 2002 and re-elected in 2006.  was chief of the Analysis and Field Evaluations Branch in the Division of Safety Research of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH NIOSH National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health, see there

NIOSH Recommendations for Safety & Health Standards

Agent  NIOSH REL*/OSHA PEL  Health effects
). Mary Tyler is a psychologist in the Office of Personnel Management, the human resources arm of the U.S. government.
COPYRIGHT 2004 Employee Assistance Professionals
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Author:Jenkins, E. Lynn
Publication:The Journal of Employee Assistance
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2004
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