Violence in the workplace

Your company safety program should address threats of violence

Roofing contractors face numerous challenges when it comes to employee safety. Typically, when roofing contractors think of safety, fall protection, ladder safety, fire prevention and hazard communication come to mind. But there's another haunting risk contractors face: workplace violence. According to 2014 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, the fourth leading cause of fatal occupational injuries in the U.S. is workplace violence. Workplace violence is a real threat and often overlooked when contractors develop their overall risk management programs.

What is it?

Before you develop any type of program focusing on workplace violence, it is vital you understand what it is. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines it as any act of physical violence, threat of violence (including harassment and intimidation), or other threatening behavior that can create a risk to the health and safety of an employee or employees in the workplace. It can range from online threats, verbal threats or petty criminal acts to more serious threats, such as robbery or homicide. It can take many forms, including:

  • Verbal or written threats. These can be any expression with the intent to cause harm.
  • Verbal abuse. Abuse can include insults, swearing and/or patronizing language.
  • Harassment. This is the act of systematic and/or continued unwanted and annoying actions of one party or a group, including threats and demands (including those of a sexual nature), that can take the form of words, gestures, bullying and other inappropriate actions.
  • Threatening behavior. This includes hand gestures, damaging property, and throwing or slamming objects.
  • Physical attacks. Pushing, hitting, kicking or inflicting physical harm to someone are all considered physical attacks.

Who's at risk?