VWP Course page 3 | Industrial & Construction Safety Solutions



Impact, Types, Causes & Prevention

How Serious is the Problem?

  • Almost 2 million assaults and threats per year plus 84000 robberies per year
  • In 1997, 45.6% of all workplace homicides occurred in retail trade

Source: Compensation and Working Conditions, Fall 1999

  • Homicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in the workplace
  • Worker on worker violence resulting in death only represents 4%
  • The remainder is from robberies, assaults from customers, patients, etc.



The act of someone creating a hostile work environment through unwelcome words, actions, or physical contact or stalking behavior NOT resulting in physical harm


An expression of an intent to cause physical harm at that time or in the future. Any words, slurs, gestures, stalking behavior or display of weapons which are perceived by the worker as a clear and real threat to their safety and which may cause fear, anxiety or the inability to perform job functions

Physical Attack

With or without the use of a weapon, a physical attack is any aggressive act of hitting, kicking, pushing, biting, scratching, sexual attack, or any other such physical act directed to the worker by a coworker, patient, client, relative, or associated individual which arises during or as a result of the performance of duties and which results in death or physical injury

Workplace Violence

Unwelcome physical or psychological forms of harassment, threats or attacks that cause fear, mental or physical harm, or unreasonable stress in the workplace

Workplace Violence Types

We divide VIWP into types to help us identify what problems have the potential to occur, to look for certain risk factors, and what type of solutions to use in addressing the problem. This counters the “randomness argument” and breaks down the problem as different causes lead to different solutions.

Type 1 – By a Stranger

  • Robber
  • Arsonist
  • Terrorist
  • Rapist
  • Sociopath
  • “Road Rage”

Type 2 – By a Customer/Client

  • Client
  • Customer
  • Patient
  • Student
  • Inmate
  • Relative
  • Vendor
  • Contractor 

Type 3 – Internal to Company

  • Employee
  • Supervisor
  • Former Employee

Type 4 – Personal Relations 

  • Having a personal relationship with an employee (real or imagined)

Dangerous Ingredients


Dangerous Ingredients Picture


Personal Anger Escalation


Escalation Picture


Psychological & Social

  • Personal expectations
  • Culture change
  • Domestic spill-over
  • Reduced trust
  • Reduced caring
  • Less control
  • Media influence

Jobs & Economy

  • Downsizing
  • Jobs vs. Careers
  • Personal identify from job
  • Labour management tension
  • Negligent hiring & retention 


  • VIWP is not a big problem
  • Even if it is, it’s not a problem here
  • I can’t do anything about it anyway
  • It’s a social, not a workplace, problem


  • Fear of losing job
  • Other major life changing event
  • Substance abuse
  • Personal problems
  • Feelings of oppression
  • Leadership Style
  • Supervisory style
  • Managers out of touch with workers
  • Organizational change
  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Unfair allocation of tasks

Warning Signs

Type 1

  • Increased crime in the area
  • Incidents in similar industry or workplace
  • Employee concerns
  • Special or unique conditions (time of year, local events)
  • Poor or no security
  • Poor environmental design

Type 2

  • Increased number of complaints from a client
  • Increased number of complaints with one product or service
  • Security breaches
  • Close call
  • Employee concerns

Type 3

  • Has a history of interpersonal conflict, is argumentative or uncooperative
  • Has difficult accepting authority or criticism
  • Tends to blame others for problems
  • Decreased social connection with little or no family support
  • Significant changes in behavior, performance, or appearance

Type 4

  • Distraught employee
  • Evidence or claims of harassment
  • Suspicious person on property


Pre-Hiring Checks

  • Criminal background check
  • Driving record (if applicable)
  • Check references carefully
  • Employers, supervisors, coworkers
  • Ask open-ended questions during the interview
  • Verify credentials

Management Commitment & Leadership Style

  • Recognize potential problem
  • Use labour management partnership
  • Be a communicator, facilitator
  • Be fair, honest, open
  • Implement a VIWP policy

Zero Tolerance Policy

  • Elements (purpose, definitions, reporting procedure, investigation, disciplinary action)
  • Non-retaliation
  • Clear expectations
  • Forms
  • Organizational buy-in

Employee Involvement

  • Participation and support in determining policies
  • Assist with risk assessment
  • Helping coworkers deal with stress
  • Communication throughout the organization
  • Input on training needs

Risk Assessment

  • Workplace security analysis
  • Customer flow/hours of operation
  • Treatment of customers/clients
  • Training of personnel
  • Restricted areas
  • Installation of panic buttons

Crisis Team

  • Represents the entire organization
  • Serves as employees’ liaison
  • Addresses policies and procedures, training needs, documentation, etc.
  • Training Topics
  • VIWP – what is it?
  • Workplace violence prevention policy
  • Assault risk factors
  • Recognizing warning signs
  • Diffusing volatile situations
  • Ways to protect oneself & coworkers
  • Incident reporting


Purpose of documentation:

  • To determine severity
  • To evaluate control methods
  • To identify training needs
  • Injuries, incident reports
  • Risk assessment results
  • Corrective actions
  • Training 

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