Workplace Violence: What are the Warning Signs?

The U.S. Department of Labor defines workplace violence as, β€œany act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site.” This can be an uncomfortable topic to discuss with employees and management, but it is essential to open an honest dialogue to minimize the likelihood of violence, identify potential warning signs, and better prepare in case of an emergency. A disgruntled worker generally shows several warning signs prior to an act of aggression. Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) identified key indicators to identify potentially hostile insider behavior including:
  • Blaming others for problems
  • Sudden, persistent complaining about unfair treatment
  • Change in behavior or decline in job performance
  • Stated hope for something bad to happen to supervisor or co-worker
  • Inability to manage feelings; outbursts of swearing or slamming doors
  • Increase in absenteeism
  • Refusal to accept criticism about work performance
The best course of action to prevent violence is implementing a preventative training program for employees and management. These programs clarify warning signs of disgruntled peers, prepare and prevent violence through:
  • Modeling characteristics of verbal and nonverbal workplace violence
  • Exploring behavior and stressors associated with insider risk
  • Dealing with potential workplace violence encounters, withdrawal, engagement
  • Active shooter preparation and protocols for employees
  • Define appropriate employee reaction to arrival of law enforcement
  • Applying lessons learned to minimize violent encounters away from the workplace
  • Examining the emotional aftermath of traumatic events
  • Recovering from traumatic stress
The Falcon Consulting Group has developed flexible workplace violence training programs that review policies, procedures, conducive environments and preventative measures. This includes identifying and addressing/diffusing aggressive behaviors, mapping of facility for areas of vulnerability and concealment, as well as active shooter preparation. Contact us at or (800) 636-4870 for more information.