Signs of potential workplace violence

Although there is no single profile of an individual prone to violence, the presence of some common risk factors could signal a potential problem. These include:

• a fascination with weapons;

• a life-changing event such as divorce, loss of job, death of a spouse or child, or a personal illness;

• poor work record that includes an inability to work with others;

• inability to cope with work stress;

• downsized, laid-off, or fired employees;

• any employee who works in areas that have a real or perceived staffing shortage;

• employees who have had a salary reduction or a position downgrade;

• history of being outspoken and difficult to handle;

• history of substance abuse;

• employees who have made threats in the past.

In addition to the above personal factors, certain aspects of the health care facility have the potential for high-risk. These include:

• proximity of the organization to high-crime areas;

• nature of service being provided, such as emergency services, which may present the opportunity for crisis situations;

• secluded work areas, such as the morgue;

• areas that handle and deposit cash, such as the cashier’s office or gift shop;

• departments such as respiratory care with one or two employees on the third shift;

• parking lots.