Background Workplace violence is a leading cause of occupational death and injury worldwide, impacting all industries and occupations. Businesses can reduce the burden of violence by implementing comprehensive prevention programs. However, the majority of businesses globally have not implemented these. One successful model uses an interdisciplinary threat management team to prioritize prevention strategies and to identify, investigate, and respond to potential threats.
Objective Using data from a wide range of work settings in the United States, we examined characteristics of violent events, types of existing prevention strategies, a model for a comprehensive threat management program, and an evaluation of this model.
Methods Data were collected from several study phases. To describe types of violent events and their outcomes, workplace violent event data were collected from a large multinational company and a large University. To identify the types of prevention strategies implemented, 164 large and mid-sized businesses in the US were surveyed. A model strategy for threat management was developed and evaluated in a large multinational company in the United States.
Results The most common types of workplace events included threatening behavior/bullying (43.2%), behavioral issue/suicidal (27.8%), assault (21.5%), and partner violence/stalking (6.1%). Smaller businesses reported a higher prevalence of bullying, while communicated threats were more common in large businesses. Large businesses were more likely to have violence prevention programs in place than mid-sized businesses. For example, more than 90% of large businesses reported having threat management teams compared with 74% of mid-sized businesses. Training in a model strategy for threat management led to significant increases in investigated events, leading to referrals for support and corrective action to remedy the threat.
Conclusion Violence prevention strategies can reduce the burden of workplace violence. Filling gaps in small and mid-sized businesses is a priority, as is understanding dynamics of workplace violence globally.