Book review: Workplace Violence

On the night of Thursday, September 9, 2010, Yvonne Hiller, armed with a .357 Magnum, walked into the Kraft food plant in Northeast Philadelphia where she worked and shot dead two coworkers and critically injured a third. Before the shooting, the victims had felt so threatened by her behavior that they complained to their supervisor who suspended Hiller and she was escorted off the premises.

The Kraft shooting is just the latest incident of workplace violence which continues to be a major problem in the nation’s workplace. According to OSHA about 2 million employees a year are victims of workplace violence. Workplace Violence Prevention is the latest “How To” book from Government Training Inc. and it presents an easy to use seven-step process for tackling workplace violence. It describes how to understand the root causes of workplace violence and the threats that they pose. These threats are not just in terms of personal attacks – whether verbal or physical – but also the cost and damage they can do in economic terms.

Once you understand the cause and types of workplace violence, you can then develop a plan to interrupt it, mitigate its effects or, ideally, eliminate it completely from the workplace. Effective workplace violence prevention (WVP) programs are essential to identify potential trouble spots and trouble makers, minimize the impact of any outbreaks and ensure all members of staff know what policies are in place to protect and safeguard them.

The book is packed with useful tips, best practices, case studies and checklists that walk you through the process from understanding the violence cycle to implementing an effective WVP program and ensuring that all management and employees are aware of it. There are practical tips on managing conflict – from bulling to domestic violence, dealing with mental health concerns and avoiding negligent hiring. There are sections on improving safety and security for workers in the field and detailed advice on what to do in the event of an outbreak of violence.

There are also sample documents that can be used to create workplace violence policies, report personnel policies and forms. If your organization already has a WVP program in place, you still need to read this book to see how the program can be improved using the many cited best practices and case studies. If your organization doesn’t have a workplace violence prevention program this book is an essential read – not just for the managers who will have to implement it but all employees who are concerned about the safety of themselves and their colleagues.

The Challenges More than 20 million Americans, nearly one in every five in the non-government U.S. labor force, work for firms that have fewer than 20 employees. Firms with payrolls between 20 and 100 employ almost another 20 million U.S. workers. Small businesses account for the vast majority of employers. Among the nation’s 5.6 million private employers, almost four-fifths have between one and nine employees.

Why is this of concern to government agencies? A significant number of government contractors come from the small business sector. Government employees visit their facilities, and their work often shares a public image with the government agency that contracts with them. In other words, WPV in any sector of the national workforce can create a potential hazard to the state, local and federal workplace.

While small employers cover the full range of income and occupations, they are also the typical employers of the lowest-paid, lowest-status workers, including immigrants and members of ethnic minorities. (Small Business Administration statistics indicate that annual pay in businesses with fewer than 20 workers is almost 25 percent less than in firms employing 500 or more.) Minority employers represent a large majority in the small-business category.

Employees working in lower-paying jobs for small employers face no less risk of violence on the job than any other group of workers. For many reasons, however, they are almost certainly the least likely to get protection from violence-prevention efforts. Consequently, reaching those employers and employees and finding ways to extend antiviolence programs into their workplaces may be the most challenging task facing any national effort to reduce workplace violence.

The hurdles to violence prevention in small businesses are numerous and high. With very few exceptions, small businesses will not have their own security force, training capability, employee assistance program, medical service, legal advisers, or human resources department. They will ordinarily have less capacity than big companies to screen job applicants and are less likely to have formal policies or procedures for employees to report threats or violence. They are similarly less likely to have an established, continuing relationship with law enforcement or social service agencies.

Small business owners and managers typically lack specialized knowledge or skills in legal and human resources issues related to workplace violence and may not be aware of resources available to help deal with a troubled or potentially violent worker, threats, stalking, or domestic abuse affecting an employee or other violence-related problems.


Category Book Price S&H Total
Federal, DoD, State,Local Government
(Must have gov’t email address)
$54.50 $9.50 $64.00
U.S. Corporate and NGO $59.50 $9.50 $69.00
International $59.50 $50.00 $109.50

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