Is ‘bullying’ considered workplace violence or does there need to be a physical threat involved? Absolutely it is and it does not have to become physical. Most professionals in the discipline of workplace violence prevention and response include activity which can be characterized by intimidating or demeaning behavior which creates a hostile working environment. Any conduct that is severe, offensive or intimidating enough to make someone reasonably fear for their safety, or that of others, creates a hostile environment. As a matter of fact, workplace bullying is one of the four most common patterns of potential future violence. Offenders often have used their bullying tactics for so long that they feel untouchable. Those very tactics have caused supervisors and other managers to avoid dealing with the problem, perhaps even transferring or worse yet, promoting the person out of their department. They then become very prone to push the envelope more.
This is no longer just a concern in schools. Workplace supervisors cannot just keep saying “oh, that’s just the way he is” or “we didn’t want to make her angry.” The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) general duty clause states “Employers can be cited for violating the … clause if there is a recognized hazard of workplace violence in their establishments and they do nothing to prevent or abate it.” There are currently 20 state legislatures that are considering statues to address workplace bullying with the most recent being in Massachusetts. Workplaces need to have a policy addressing workplace violence prevention that includes bullying, educating their staff about it, and have definitive guidance about what to do if it is observed. There are productivity, legal, compliance and security costs, and the cost of affected employee morale.
For more complete information on workplace violence prevention check out IMAC’s training web site www.imac-training.com for the recently released online training series addressing this serious problem.
For more details regarding our workplace violence program, specifically, please see our workplace violence training course page.