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How to deal with workplace violence



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Yesterday, employees in Virginia were shot down by an ex-colleague.

While it’s easy for professionals in Hong Kong to dismiss such workplace violence as a distant threat, it’s important to remember the issue is something that should never be overlooked.

According to workplace violence consultant Timothy Dimoff, retaliation, or showing different people that something wasn’t done right, is the motivation for workplace violence.

“Unfortunately, their solution is that the other person suffer an extreme amount of pain,” he said.

Dimoff told ABC, women, specifically, are the biggest target of violence in offices.

“In fact, homicide is the second leading cause of death for females in the workplace, right behind roadway accidents.  The key to protecting yourself is to look for warning signs and confront anyone upset in the office,” he said.

“You can’t wish it to go away. That individual needs to be confronted about their accusations, their verbiage, what they might do,” he added.

If the situation has escalated, Dimoff urges professionals to fight back.

“You need to get aggressive. You can pick a chair up and throw it at an individual. We are opening people’s minds up to responding when they have to,” he said.

ALSO READ: Why being rude at work is more harmful than you thought

Joel Dvoskin, who runs the Threat Assessment Group, said the most common but least reported types of workplace violence are bullying, intimidation and threats.

In 2009, there were 572,000 reports of committed acts against adults at work, according to the Bureau of Justice in the US.

Dvoskin suspects the actual number is higher, since a lot of people might not report being shoved up against a wall, or other relatively minor physically violent acts.

Overall, roughly two million workers a year are affected by some form of workplace violence, estimated by the US Occupational Health and Safety Administration

“I doubt there’s a company with more than 10 employees that hasn’t had that,”  Dvoskin told CNN.

Between 1992 and 2012, there were 14,770 workplace homicide victims, or roughly 700 a year on average, according to federal government statistics.  In 2013, more than 400 people were murdered at work and 26,000, were seriously injured.

Admittedly, it is easy to assume that disgruntled workers most likely to commit violent action, but that’s not the case,  according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In two-thirds of workplace homicides, the assailant had no known personal relationship with the victims.

Perpetrators of workplace violence are employees who may not take action because they’re unhappy on the job.

“Sometimes they commit workplace violence because of something else going on in their lives,” Dvoskin said.

ALSO READ: Bosses’ language might be encouraging unethical behaviour

Image: Shutterstock



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