Types of Workplace Violence, and How to Identify Them

Types of Workplace Violence, and How to Identify Them

In 2018, 453 US workers were victims of workplace homicides. As a business owner, it’s up to you to make sure workplace violence doesn’t happen on your premises. But do you know exactly what workplace violence is? There are even different types of workplace violence that you should be aware of.

Workplace violence is when someone uses physical force or engages in threatening or intimidating behavior in the workplace. It’s a common misconception that workplace violence only involves co-workers. In fact, there are four distinct kinds of workplace violence.

This article lists the four main types of workplace violence and offers suggestions on how you can protect your employees.

Criminal Intent

The criminal intent type of workplace violence is when the person doing the violence has no relation to your company or your employees. Typically this would apply in cases such as a robbery, where someone comes into the business and causes trouble.

This could also apply to incidents such as terrorism.


This is when someone involved in the violence has a business relationship with the company. For example, if a customer is unhappy about the price and attacks a cashier, that is customer/client violence.

Worker on Worker

Another type of violence you might encounter is worker on worker violence. This is when one of your workers has a conflict with another worker and fights or threatens them. This can also apply to past workers. A worker who is attacked by another worker has a very good case for a work injury lawyer.

Personal Relationship

The final kind of workplace violence is when the perpetrator does not have a relationship with the business but does have a relationship with the intended victim. Generally, this means that some kind of disagreement from outside the workplace spills over into the work environment.

How to Protect Workers

You can protect your workers against criminal intent style violence by making sure your premises is not attractive to criminals. For example, you should avoid openly dealing in large amounts of cash. You should also make sure your employees have training in how to handle violent customers.

To protect your workers against customer/client violence, you should have a zero-tolerance policy for aggressive behavior. Customers who try to intimidate workers should not be welcome at your company. On the flip side, you also shouldn’t tolerate workers who threaten customers. You need to make sure you have systems in place for reporting violence.

To protect your employees from worker on worker violence, you need to make sure you only hire responsible people who can pass a background check. Violence involving personal relationships is probably the most difficult to address. You can reduce the risk by making sure non-employees are not allowed on the job site.

Now You Know the Types of Workplace Violence

As you can see, there are many different types of workplace violence that you should be aware of. As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to be aware of all four of these and to protect your workers and customers from them.

If you want to learn more about some other business-related topics, check out the rest of our blog posts.

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