Violence in the Workplace

Workplace violence takes many forms. It can include verbal threats, physical assault — even death. Violence in the workplace is one of the fastest growing forms of violence and poses a significant threat to the safety, security, and well-being of employers and employees. A workplace violence issue of great concern is that businesses continue to under report non-fatal injuries, which can lead to apathy and less than adequate protection of workplaces.

Employers would be wise to:

  • Become informed of the risk factors and warning signs of potential violence;
  • Recognize the frequency with which violence permeates the workplace;
  • Conduct an assessment to determine your organization’s violence vulnerability;
  • Recognize the environmental factors that allow violence to escalate; and
  • Develop an in-house anti-violence program.

Current research suggests that employers’ attempts to eliminate workplace violence are much more successful when the focus is on prevention rather than reaction. For that reason, it makes sense for employers to familiarize themselves with the early indicators that an employee might be at risk for violent acting out.

However, recognizing the individual most likely to act out is not, in and of itself, enough. Employers would also be wise to create work environments in which it is difficult for hostile and aggressive behavior to take root, and widely publicize the resources available to address not only troubled employees, but also problematic customers and clients.


CalChamber would like to thank Dennis A. Davis for his contribution to the Violence in the Workplace chapter.

Dennis A. Davis, Ph.D., is recognized nationally as an expert on workplace violence prevention, workplace bullying, conflict resolution, sexual harassment and cultural diversity.

Since 2008, Dennis has served as Ogletree Deakins’ National Director of Client Training. In that capacity, he develops and implements training programs which are designed to minimize the risks associated with inappropriate employee behavior.

Dennis spent more than 10 years consulting to federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, where he used his education in clinical psychology to teach willful compliance techniques.