Businesses in every industry experience workplace violence, often resulting in some personal injury to a coworker, a manager, or a customer. A 2022 survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) revealed that 28 percent of workers have witnessed “aggressive interactions” between coworkers or were personally involved in such an incident.
The Numbers on Workplace Violence
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 37,060 nonfatal injuries were suffered in the workplace resulting from an intentional injury inflicted by another person in 2020. In July 2022, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) released a study reporting “an annual average of 1.3 million nonfatal workplace violent victimizations occurred during the combined 5 years from 2015 to 2019.”
Corporate security professionals and risk management executives work to establish clear policies and codes of conduct clearly detailing prohibited behavior, instructing managers how to handle incidents of violence, harassment, or aggressive conduct, and publishing a means for victims of or witnesses to misconduct to report the events to supervisors immediately. But preventing all workplace violence and the resulting injuries cannot be eliminated, especially in large organizations with thousands of employees.
How can company leaders minimize the occurrence of injuries intentionally inflicted on an employee by a coworker? And how can customers, clients, and others who interact with the company’s workforce be protected from a worker’s violent outbursts?
There is no single easy answer, but businesses bear the cost of these incidents, an average of $250 to $330 billion a year.
Identifying an Insider Threat of Workplace Violence Before It Happens
Fundamental concepts of risk management include prudent planning and anticipating the unexpected. All reasonable measures need to be taken to reduce the likelihood of worker misconduct that will force the company to assume legal liability for injuries or deaths suffered by victims of workplace violence.
Can You See It Coming?
Under the doctrine of negligent hiring, and negligent retention, employers can be held liable for the damages and injuries employees inflict on third parties if the employer knew or should have known of the worker’s potential risk of harm. This liability also applies when that risk could have been discovered through reasonable investigation.
Signs that a worker may be more likely to act violently include coworker’s observations of the person’s deepening depression, quickness to anger, uncharacteristic withdrawal from social interaction, and increased use of alcohol or drugs.
Some on-the-job behavior may suggest an upcoming outburst of aggression, and intervention by concerned coworkers or supervisors may head off the crisis. But most precursors to workplace violence occur outside the view of fellow workers.
Troubled personal lives cause pent up anger, resentment, jealousy, and a sense of grievance that may explode at work.
Arrests for domestic violence, DUI, misdemeanor or felony assault, firearms charges, illegal drug possession, or disorderly conduct can be indications that a worker is experiencing a personal crisis. Security department heads, risk managers, and HR representatives need to be aware of these criminal episodes to properly gauge the potential risk posed by a troubled worker.
Pre-hire background screening is extremely informative and can identify erratic and impulsive conduct in the job candidate’s background that flags potential problems. But a comprehensive pre-hire screening flags only what happened in the past; it is merely a snapshot in time that does not identify current activities.
As a precursor to such behavior, remaining informed of any criminal conduct, arrests, prosecutions, and court case resolutions is no longer an optional protocol for a company working to anticipate and prevent workplace violence. Continuous screening of the entire workforce is not only feasible but also fast becoming the standard practice to protect the organization from claims of negligent hiring.
Continuous Screening and Workforce Assessment
PostHire continuous screening service uses a unique proprietary search protocol that enables employers to receive near-real-time notification that a worker has been charged with a crime anywhere in the country, 24-hours a day. The notice received is individually customized for each client so only the information the organization deems relevant is communicated.
No company security or risk management professionals want to learn after an employee’s violent outburst at work that they had recently committed a series of increasingly serious crimes prior to the workplace violence. Forewarned is forearmed.
PostHire’s continuous workforce screening is the most reliable, comprehensive, and thorough national database search process in the market today. PostHire does not phase data from the normal channels like other screening services do, often searching only the employee’s home zip code. PostHire obtains official court records and supporting factual narratives immediately after they are filed in courts across the nation.
Contact PostHire today for a free population assessment if you are curious about any activities your workforce has been involved in and you want to learn about a customized screening plan for your organization. Whether you employ 100,000 workers or only 1,000, we have the plan to keep you informed.