Workplace Violence

workplace violence

20,500 American workers suffered trauma from workplace violence in 2020. There were 392 fatalities in that group. 73% of the workers who face violence were women, but 82% of those who died were men. By 2022, when so many of us had gone back to work, the number of deaths reached 525.

Manufacturing is not an especially violent industry. Healthcare workers are the most in danger from workplace violence; in fact, more than half of all intentional injuries took place in health care settings. Social services, sales, and transportation were the industries that saw the next highest levels of violence.

But manufacturing takes place in dangerous settings. Given an intention to hurt someone, a factory can offer lots of effective means to do so. And violent incidents can take place in any workplace.

Why is workplace violence increasing?

Some observers suggest that burnout and economic insecurity have increased the rate of workplace violence. We’re not sure there has really been a significant increase of stress or hardship in workplaces. There may even be greater respect for work/life balance now than there was in the past.

Others think that the increase in mass shootings, the political polarization of the nation, or the loss of expectations of workplace civility might be at fault. In addition to these specific concerns, we know that mental health problems have risen since the pandemic, with far more Americans reporting anxiety and depression in recent years.

Staff shortages and the strain of returning to the workplace could also be factors.


Employee training and a zero-tolerance policy toward violence in the workplace are the most commonly proposed solutions.

Workers need to learn that they should try to run away first, hide if that is not possible, and fight only as a last resort. Planned escape routes, drills, and clearly identifiable resource people should also be part of the training.

Mental heath support should also be part of the plan. Being aware of workers’ levels of frustration and worry can help head problems off at the pass.

Security measures are the third element of an effective workplace violence prevention plan.

OSHA requires employers to provide a safe workplace. It can be hard to prepare for violent acts, but it should be a priority.