January 11

6 Types of Attackers Your Workplace Violence Plan Must Account For – Not One!

 January 11

by kage36

workplace violence risk assessment vulnerability

By Jeffrey M. Miller SPS, DTI


When you think about workplace violence, what comes to mind? Because, the way you define anything – including workplace violence – limits how you will deal with that thing!

In fact, when most managers, administrators, or business owners think about workplace violence and the types of people who commit these acts, they limit their definition to the aggressive employee who lashes out at others on the job. And, while the aggressive employee is one type of assailant, there are many industries, including healthcare, where this type is least likely to ever emerge as a problem.

In the realm of workplace violence, there are actually 5 attacker types! By type, I don’t mean what he or she does to commit an act of violence – nor do I mean the weapons they use, or anything of the like.

What I mean by type is…

“The relationship that the attacker has to the company and it’s employees as targets!”

As I teach my clients, here are the five workplace violence attacker-types:

1) Current Company Employee. This is the attacker that everyone tends to focus on. However, as in the case of schools and universities, organizations can forget “non-traditional” workers or members of the company community such as students, independent contractors, and the like. This belief that it is only employees who attack creates the most risk in companies where there is a great working environment and everyone is getting along. In fact, the medical and healthcare industries have one of the lowest incidents of employee-initiated violence. And yet they rank near the top for total number of incidents of workplace violence!

2) Former Employees. It’s easy to forget those who were fired or quit under less-than-happy conditions. Once gone should not be “easily forgotten.” Usually, workers who are “let-go” for poor conduct or performance have a long string of employment problems elsewhere. And, many of these people hit bottom and develop levels of stress, anxiety, and depression that cause them to turn their blame outwards. A high percentage of workplace violence attacks come from employees who have been fired weeks, months, and even years before the attack!

3) Outsiders – Customers or “Strangers.” These are the attackers who choose a target for whatever reason, but have no direct ties to the company itself. The terrorist attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Center is a perfect example of this. Another example is the robber who holds up a convenience store, or the customer who doesn’t like the bill he just got from the mechanic who repaired his car.

4) Domestic Violence. This is the spouse or significant other who enters the company to commit an act of violence on a specific person. However, there is often considerable collateral damage due to other employees “getting in the way” or getting caught in the cross-fire!

5) Off-site Client Attackers. This attacker is a virtual unknown to many. But, every year, thousands of employees – in-home visiting nurses, salespeople, utility workers, and others – are assaulted, beaten, robbed, and killed by clients, customers, and others while working outside of the company’s walls!

As you can see, if you expand your perspective and definition of who perpetrates acts of workplace violence, then what you need to do to protect yourself and your people from it, must expand as well.

Fortunately though, training your people to be able to avoid, evade, escape from, or defend against attacks does not require different strategies and tactics for each attacker type. What “is” required though, is an understanding of how to respond in each scenario so as to be the most effective with the least amount of work.

If you’re serious about getting this type of training, you can start by reading this new workplace violence report titled, “Backwards Thinking” In Workplace Violence Planning & Staff Training. It will give you the information you need to get others on board and make this topic a priority project in your company.


Jeffrey M. Miller,SPS, DTI is an internationally-recognized risk assessment and emergency management expert. He is an Amazon best-selling and award-winning author, and co-author of the books: “Workplace Violence in the Mental and General Healthcare Setting,” and “Using GIS in Hospital and Healthcare Emergency Management.” For more information and to download your complimentary report, go to: jmillerconsultancy.com/

For a free initial consult and to discuss your company’s needs, Jeff can be reach at: +1-570-884-1119.

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