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Type 2 Workplace Violence

I live in Santa Cruz, California, and my community is currently mourning the loss of two police officers who were senselessly killed in the line of duty.

This tragedy is an example of Type 2 violence, which is an assault on an employee by a customer, patient, or anyone for which the business provides a service. The perpetrator has a legitimate relationship with the business and becomes violent while being served by the business. The violent act usually occurs while employees are performing their normal job duties.

Occupations such as being a police officer, correctional officer, security guard, or mental health worker require employees to work with dangerous people. Other situations involve irate clients who react violently to the services provided, delays in services, or denials in services.

If you work in a field where you or your employees are exposed to Type 2 violence, you need to develop a program to address and mitigate the potential risks at your workplace.

An effective workplace violence prevention program should include:

  • A comprehensive written plan with the assignment of responsibility
  • Management commitment and employee participation
  • Worksite analysis
  • Hazard control and prevention
  • Procedures in the event of a workplace violence incident
  • Training
  • Annual program evaluation

Management commitment includes developing and implementing the written program to address workplace violence and to ensure that all employees participate in the program. Worksites need to be evaluated for potential risks, such as clutter, inadequate lighting, lack of security, or suspicious activity. They should also be equipped with security cameras and alarms whenever possible. Employees who work alone should have the names and numbers of the local police and fire departments, as well as the phone numbers of management in the event of an emergency.

If there are Type 2 violence hazards in the workplace, you should identify them and develop measures to eliminate or reduce these hazards. Employees should be trained to recognize, avoid, or diffuse potentially violent situations. Your worksite should be reevaluated for any previously unidentified risks on an ongoing basis.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has developed the following guidelines for preventing violence against workers who have contact with the public:

  1. Use physical barriers to protect yourself.
  2. Install silent alarm systems and panic buttons.
  3. Use mirrors and raised platforms.
  4. Use bright and effective lighting.
  5. Make sure that you have enough staff members to ensure a safe working environment.
  6. Use drop safes and post signs to indicate only a limited amount of cash is available.
  7. Use height markers on exit doors.
  8. Use video surveillance equipment to monitor all activity.
  9. Control or limit access to the facility.
  10. Install locks on doors that lead to staff-only areas.

Cal/OSHA also provides a model injury and illness prevention program specifically for workplace security.

We do not know the reasons that an individual becomes violent, but we can implement measures to reduce the likelihood that either you or someone within your company becomes a victim.

Monika Maier, C.S.P., is a Senior Loss Control Consultant at State Compensation Insurance Fund.

For additional information on workplace violence, refer to the following State Fund Safety Meeting Topics:

Personal Protection against Workplace Violence
Working against Violence


Safety News is produced by State Compensation Insurance Fund to assist clients in their loss control efforts. Information or recommendations contained in this publication were obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the date of publication. Information is only advisory and does not presume to be exhaustive or inclusive of all workplace hazards or situations. Permission to reprint articles subject to approval by State Compensation Insurance Fund.

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