Heightened Security Measures

Heightened security measures are an employer’s first line of defense against workplace violence. NIOSH suggest Improve external lighting; use drop safes to minimize cash on hand and post signs noting that only a limited amount of cash is on hand; install silent alarms and surveillance cameras; increase the number of staff on duty, provide staff training in conflict resolution and nonviolent response, and close establishments during high hours late at night and early in the morning. Employers can also issue a weapons policy, for instance barring fire arms and other dangerous or deadly weapons from the facility.

Because about half of workplace homicides occur in the retail industry, OSHA issued voluntary recommendations aimed at reducing homicides and injuries in such establishments. Particularly, for late night or early morning retail workers, the suggestion include: Install mirrors and improved lighting, provide silent and personal alarms, reduce store hours during high risks periods, install drop safes and signs that indicate little cash is kept on hand; erect bullet resistance enclosures and increase staffing during high risk hours.

Improved Employee screening:

That testing can screen out those prone to workplace aggression is clear. In one study researchers measured the relationship among personal characteristics such as trait anger (for instance how participants feel about exhibiting a fiery temper when they do not receive recognition for doing god work) and attitude toward revenge (which of course measures a person’s attitude toward revenge) the researchers concluded that measurable individual differences variables like trait anger account for more than 60% of the variance in our measure of the incidence of workplace aggression.

At a minimum the employer should do a thorough background check. Obtain a detailed employment application and solicit and verify the applicant’s employment history, educational background and references. A personal interview, personnel testing, and a review and verification of all information provided should also be included. Sample interview questions to ask might include for instance, what frustrates you? And who was your worst supervisor and why?

Certain background facts suggest the need for a more in-depth background investigation. Red flags include:

1) An unexplained gap in employment
2) Incomplete or false information on the resume or application.
3) A negative unfavorable or false reference.
4) Prior insubordinate or violent behavior on the job.
5) A criminal history involving harassing or violent behavior.
6) A prior termination for cause with a suspicious (or no) explanation
7) A history of significant psychiatric problems.
8) A history of drug or alcohol abuse.
9) Strong indications of instability in the individual’s work or personal life as indicated for example by frequent job changes geographic moves
10) Lapsed or host licenses or accreditations.

Workplace Violence training

Several firms offer video training programs that explain what workplace violence is identify its causes and signs and offer tips to supervisors on how to prevent it and what it occurs. Firms should also train supervisor’s to identify the clues that typically precede violent incidents. These include:

Typical profiles

The typical perpetrator is male normally aged 25 to 40 and exhibits an inability to handle stress, manipulatively behavior and steady complaining. Of course many non–violent people such traits too. However, perpetrators also tend to exhibit other behaviors such as making verbal threats and physical or verbal outbursts disrespecting the supervisor and harboring grudges.

Verbal threats:

Individuals often talk about what they may do. An employee might say that propane tank in the back could blow up easily.

Physical actions:

Troubled employees may try to intimidate others, gain access to places where they do not belong or flash a concealed weapon to test reactions.


Most cases involve an employee who has a frustrated sense of entitlement to a promotion for example.


An employee may hold a grudge against a co-worker or supervisor and in some cases may stem from a romantic interest.