Workplace Violence: Understanding, Preventing & Responding

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration estimates 2 million employees per year are victims of workplace violence.

Workplace violence is any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other dangerously disruptive behavior that occurs at a place of business. It can affect employees, clients, and/or customers. Workplace violence is a complex and widespread issue, steadily gaining attention from the public, mental health experts, and law enforcement professionals.

Several types of workplace violence events have emerged over the past few years including: incidents involving offenders who have no relationship with the victims or the establishment, those where the offenders currently receive services from the establishment, episodes involving current or former employees acting out toward their present or past place of employment, or when domestic disputes between an employee and the perpetrator spill over into the workplace.prevent-workplace-violence.jpg

Proper training and preparedness is the first step to preventing workplace violence in your place of business. Many corporations throughout the United States have instituted programs to help prevent violence in the workplace. These efforts can go a long way toward minimizing the threat at your place of business.

Business owners and managers should incorporate the following items in their workplace to create a safer environment for their staff and those who come to their place of business:

  • Teach staff what is considered unacceptable conduct from co-workers and visitors to the business.
  • Teach staff what actions to take if they witness or are subjected to workplace violence including the early warning signs of potentially violent situations.
  • Create effective steps to follow in response to a workplace violence incident the same way you would teach staff to respond to fires, natural disasters and the like
  • Encourage staff to report all incidents that appear to be workplace violence
  • Build a crisis procedure for responding to workplace violence and practice with drills on a regular basis the same way you practice fire drills, earthquake drills and such
  • Pre-screen potential employees thoroughly (including background checks)
  • Enforce workplace rules and review regularly with staff
  • Offer an employee assistance program that includes mental health care
  • Require that all visitors and vendors who come to the establishment are registered by photo copying their ID before being allowed access
  • Use bright, effective lighting
  • Have an adequate amount of staff on site at all times
  • Establish clear internal and/or external lines of communication to avert and respond effectively to a crisis
  • Change business routines – criminals and ex-employees study or are already aware of the daily routines of your business – which enables them to know when best to strike. Changing routines on a regular basis will make this harder for someone to plan an attack.
  • Provide drop safes when large amounts of cash are exchanged throughout the day and train staff to use the safe continuously leaving only a minimal amount of cash accessible and apply signage indicating that staff on duty does not have access to safe
  • Immediately file a restraining order against any person(s) who have posed a threat to persons or property at your place of business – even if it was just a verbal threat
  • Some additional items to consider if possible are; hiring security staff, adding security cameras and/or alarms, installing panic buttons in discrete (but easily accessible) locations, and entries protected by codes, cards or keys only
  • If your staff does delivery work, running any type of errands or visits to clients/customers’ homes you should also implement the following; Instruct your employees not to enter any situation they feel is unsafe, equip your employees with cell phones or radios to be able to contact you or seek help if necessary, allow at least 2 staff members to travel together whenever possible, and to carry minimum money.WPV Shot.jpg

To make Workplace Violence Prevention effective in your place of business; learn the key elements to prevention in your particular field of business and thoroughly investigate your business’ weaknesses and strengths in regards to any possible threats.  Understand that if  an employee/coworker begins acting differently;  determining the frequency, duration, and intensity of the new behavior can be helpful.

Specific behaviors of concern that should increase awareness include depression, threats, menacing or erratic behavior, aggressive outbursts, references to weaponry, verbal abuse, hypersensitivity, diminished work performance and offensive commentary or jokes referring to violence.

Not surprisingly, relationship or personal problems can carry over from home to the workplace. Certain signs that may help determine if an employee/coworker is experiencing such difficulties include disruptive phone calls or texts, anxiety, poor concentration, unexplained bruises or injuries, frequent absences and tardiness, and disruptive visits from current or former partners.

Given that human behavior is not always predictable, no absolute way exists to gauge where an individual may be on the pathway toward violence. If the individuals display potentially threatening behaviors of concern, vigilant employees should report these directly to a supervisor or vigilant supervisors should take notice.  Employees generally do not want to be viewed as undermining their peers and, therefore, wait until they are certain that a situation is serious before reporting it. Unfortunately, at this point, it may be too late. This stresses the importance of awareness on the part of employees. Staff must be trained so that when behaviors of concern occur, a “red flag” is raised and appropriate action is taken. Creating a climate of trust is the key element of employers and business owners to preventing workplace violence.

☠⚠️ Toxic Cleaning Supplies: What to Avoid to Stay Safe ⚠️☠

We assume they are safe. But in fact, many popular household cleaners are dangerously toxic. Let’s learn about the scariest substances hiding under your kitchen sink…

Manufacturers argue that in small amounts these toxic ingredients aren’t likely to be a problem, but when we’re exposed to them routinely, and in combinations that haven’t been studied, it’s impossible to accurately gauge the risks. While a few products cause immediate reactions from acute exposure (headaches from fumes, skin burns from accidental contact), different problems arise with repeated contact. Chronic exposure adds to the body’s “toxic burden” — the number of chemicals stored in its tissues at a given time.

The average household contains about 62 toxic chemicals, say environmental experts. We’re exposed to them routinely — from the phthalates in synthetic fragrances to the noxious fumes in oven cleaners. Ingredients in common household products have been linked to asthma, cancer, reproductive disorders, hormone disruption and neurotoxicity

No one can avoid exposure to toxic chemicals altogether, but it is possible to reduce it significantly. 

Know Your Hazards:

Chlorine bleach is commonly used to treat drinking water, sanitize swimming pools and to whiten laundry, and is a strong eye, skin, and respiratory irritant. Mixing chlorine bleach with other cleaners like ammonia can release dangerous chlorine gas. Exposure to chlorine gas can cause coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, or other symptoms.

Ammonia is often included in glass cleaners and other hard-surface cleaners, and can be irritating to the skin, eyes, throat, and lungs. Ammonia can burn your skin, and can damage your eyes (including blindness) upon contact.

Triclosan and Triclocarban are commonly added to household cleaning products such as hand soap and dish soap as well as a broad range of other products from toothpaste to socks. These chemicals are persistent in the environment, and are linked to hormone imbalance, and potential increased risk of breast cancer.

Ammonium quaternary compounds (“quats”) are found in household cleaning products like disinfectant sprays and toilet cleaners, and some have been identified as a known inducer of occupational asthma. Certain quats have also been linked to decreased fertility and birth defects in mice.

Nano-silver can be incorporated into textiles, plastics, soaps, packaging, and other materials, giving each the natural antibacterial property of silver metal. Nano-silver particles can penetrate deep into your body and have been shown to be toxic to the liver and brain.

OK, maybe you don’t have straight ammonia or bleach sitting under your kitchen cabinet, but what about all the other cleaners that you have at home? Many of them contain the ingredients listed above…ALWAYS BE SURE TO CHECK THE LABELS.

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For more info on toxic household cleaners please visit: the Organic Consumers Association or the EWG.



Skirting a Stalker – Do’s & Don’ts

Stalking is used with some differing definitions in psychiatry and psychology, as well as legal terminology in the act of a criminal offense.  Stalking is unwanted or obsessive attention sometimes leading to threatening or dangerous situations as well as discomfort for the victim.  Unlike other crimes which usually involve one act, stalking is a series of actions that occur over a period usually consisting of an accumulation of actions which in themselves can be legal, such as phone calls, sending gifts, or sending emails, showing up in public places at the same time as the victim and the like. 


While most people view stalking as a problem only celebrities encounter, it is actually more common among civilians who have a jilted ex-partner, an envious co-worker or ex-friend, and sometimes even strangers who seem to grow an unhealthy interest in their victim (perhaps a customer at the victim’s place of employment, the ex of someone the victim is newly connected with or even someone they discovered on social media and became obsessed with).

In modern times, stalking has become more prominent due to social media and political conceptions. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, group stalking is becoming more commonplace.  Group stalking is when 3 or more people driven by the same feelings unite with a goal of harassing their victim.  Cyber stalking has turned into a household word and, due it the simplicity of cyber stalking, it has also grown to be the most common type of stalking today.

Here are some Do’s & Don’ts if you feel you are being stalked:

  • Don’t call, write to, speak or respond to your stalker in person if you can avoid it. Stalkers often feel as though they are in a relationship with their victims and any contact the victim makes with them is perceived as validation of their relationship (which is nonexistent). Remember, even being overtly rude or yelling at your stalker can be misconstrued as communication of affection or interest.
  • Do hide your personal information. If a stalker does not have personal information about you they can retrieve it by searching on the internet, listening to your conversations, or picking up items you discard in public places.  If possible, provide a secondary phone contact number whenever able and use a P.O. Box for your address.
  • Don’t rely on arming yourself as a deterrent.  Without proper training, you or a loved one could get hurt.  Also, should you physically harm or kill a stalker, you could be held criminally liable resulting in life altering penalties.  It is always best to know self defense techniques, but when using weapons (such as guns) it becomes a slippery slope where, as a victim, you could become a offender.
  • Do inform others about your issue. Although many stalking victims are reluctant to tell others what they are going through, it is important that those around you know what is happening. This includes family, friends, co-habitants, work colleagues and even neighbors. Sharing helps reduce the possibility of others unintentionally providing info to the stalker that could provide access to you, makes them aware of any significant things they observe and helps you with evidence and witnesses should you have to bring your stalker to court.
  • Don’t ignore red flags or your instincts.  Often times we think a stalker will give up and go away or that we will not be taken seriously if we tell others we feel suspicious about someone.  Depending on the level of threat a stalking incident is, do not let even the mildest incidents extend beyond 3 occurrences without noting details, saving any evidence and beginning to inform others you may have a problem on your hands.
  • Do collect all forms of evidence. Try to journal all incidents, organize copies of any correspondence and save any recorded messages, and photograph any evidence or incidents whenever you are able to do so safely.  If an item is delivered to you, contact the delivery service to determine who placed the order, when, and how it was paid for (cash or credit card) and try to obtain a description of the person who placed the order. Handle all items received from your stalker carefully to avoid smudging fingerprints (for instance; hold items by the corners using tweezers. Keep the item in separate plastic bag.
  • Don’t leave a hidden key outside or avoid changing locks if your stalker once had access to your residence.  This should be obvious, but often times we forget these safety measures in the daily shuffle and more especially when we are already stressed.  It’s always wise to change your locks after a roommate (of any nature) moves out.
  • Do make your home as safe and secure as possible. A monitored security alarm system is always best, but not always affordable.  If you can’t afford to purchase such a system, there are also alarms that do not report to a monitoring company but still make startling alert sounds that can deter offenders.  Other smart ways to secure your home are listed in our Tips for Protecting your Home as well as our Burglar Prevention Blog.


Remember your local police  are there to protect and serve YOU! You can drop by a police station and discuss your issues or seek advice, but in busier cities it is not always as easy to do.  If you feel you need advice or assistance from the police or even just want to put a statement on record, consider calling to schedule an appointment to meet with an officer to do so.  If you’ve reached a place where a restraining order is your best option, you can approach it the same way as you would seek advice from the police but it is important that you remember the following; often times restraining orders infuriate stalkers and conditions worsen before they improve, a restraining order does not replace any of the aforementioned safety measures and any failure to strictly enforce a restraining order may send a message to the stalker that the victim is not being protected.  If you decide police intervention is best, be sure to provide them any evidence you have collected.

When stalking behaviors persist for more than a few days, there is a serious probability that they will continue indefinitely and it is a good idea to learn how to manage the situation. To learn more about the risks of being stalked, check out these websites and articles:, How to Deal with a Stalker and Safety Tips for Stalking Victims.

🚗 😡 Don’t be Driven Insane: Revoke Your Road Rage License 😡 🚗

The term originated in Los Angeles, CA in the late 80’s when a rash of freeway shootings occurred on the Interstate 405, 110, and 10 freeways. “Road rage” encompasses rude gestures, verbal insults, physical threats or dangerous driving methods targeted toward another driver in an effort to intimidate or release frustration and can lead to altercations, assaults and collisions that result in serious physical injuries or even death.

Irritating driving situations and road rage can create a vicious cycle that is difficult to escape. Driving can have many annoyances anytime a person is behind the wheel because speed limits and other drivers making decisions different than your own. As stress rises, the likelihood of a person developing road rage escalates and if a person has road rage, their stress levels spike.

The Auto Channel recently released a survey of the top 5 cities with the highest reports of Road Rage which are; Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Boston, and Phoenix.

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So, How Can You Prevent Road Rage?

While you can’t control the behavior of others – and let’s face it, some people are just jerks – you can do your best to prevent being a victim of road rage by following a few simple steps:

  • Plan Ahead & Leave on time! If you’re not in a rush, you will better be able to be a passive driver with less concern about holding your place in the lead of the traffic.
  • Get proper sleep.  When you’re tired, it’s easier to become stressed and find yourself more irritable and less willing to accommodate other drivers on the road with you.
  • Remember it’s not all about you.  Sometimes, even when you’re the most courteous and law abiding driver on the road, you can’t please everyone.  Also, everyone is not responsible for pleasing you by being as mindful of a driver as you are.  It’s not about trying to understand why they keep slamming their breaks on in front of you or cutting you off unnecessarily.  It is about getting as far away from that erratic driver as you can.
  • Loosen up.  Being a victim of road rage doesn’t always mean that someone is attacking you in some form, it could also mean you’re unknowingly attacking yourself.  When you realize your gripping the wheel too tight, mashing your teeth, or thinking thoughts you’d never say in front of your loved ones you are putting yourself at risk in a different way – you’re risking your health. According to the American Psychological Association; road rage can lead to depression, heart attacks and strokes.
  • Being cautious is being courteous.  If you practice safe driving skills, avoid distracted driving and avoid any maneuvers that are going to make other drivers angry you can dodge road rage on your journey.  For instance, don’t change lanes without signaling first and making sure you aren’t going to cut off another driver. If you are going to turn, make sure you have your turn signal on in plenty of time so the drivers around you know what you are doing. (Being cautious in inclement weather is even more important, so be sure to read our blog about driving in the rain also!)
  • Avoid tailgating! No matter how frustrated you are with the slow driver in front of you who is eating your time up for breakfast, tailgating is the worst way to handle the situation.  If you can’t find a way to get ahead of this nuisance safely then just get away from it instead.  Realize that the time is lost regardless so putting some space between you and this annoying driver isn’t going to further damage your time clock, but continuing to tailgate this driver is going to further damage your attitude and health pointlessly.
  • Don’t blow it! Laying on the horn is a distraction both for you and all the drivers who can hear it.  While it may get your point across, it also creates unnecessary danger.  Startling innocent drivers around you and angering your target is not the smart thing to do in an already stressful environment.  And though it may give you a few seconds of relief it could be the final step in pushing that unstable driver over the edge of anger with you and create a very risky situation.
  • Dodge obscene gestures and words to dodge road rage.  We’ve all done it. We’ve all  flipped off the guy who cut us off in traffic or cursed at the woman who used the on ramp to cut in the line of traffic.  We all know they deserve it.  But, did you know that these retaliations are the leading cause for road rage ending in violence? The best way to avoid a situation spiraling out of control is to stay in control of your own behavior.
  • Just say no to eye contact.  If you’ve made an error and a driver near you is doing all the things above we told you to avoid, don’t make eye contact with that driver.  Stay seemingly oblivious and distance yourself from that driver – even if it means letting him or her take the lead.  Also, if you really want to glare at the driver who made you angry – perhaps you feel you haven’t used an obscene gesture so you’re in the clear to at least glare – just don’t do it! It could very well be the one thing that driver needed as the match to his/her powder keg.


Unfortunately, there may be times when it will be impossible for you to avoid a confrontation with an enraged driver. This can be as simple as obscene gestures and horn blowing or it can escalate into something much more threatening.

If You Are in a Dangerous Road Rage Situation Take These Precautions:

  • Distance yourself from the driver if possible.  Try pulling over and letting a few cars get between you before re-entering traffic.
  • If the driver follows you, stay in your car with your doors locked and your windows up.  If necessary, circle a parking lot so that, if that driver is trying to approach your vehicle, you are not an easy target.  Be sure to put on your hazard lights and circle slowly so that no pedestrians are endangered and call 9-1-1.
  • If at all possible, drive to the nearest police station and call in advance to let them know you are on your way and what is happening.
  • Note the color, year, make and model of the car as well as the license plate information or any noteworthy marks on their vehicle. Also try to get a good look at the driver so that you can give detailed information to the police if necessary.
  • If you can safely video or photograph the vehicle and situation with your cell phone, do so after you have contacted the police.
  • NEVER engage.  You do not know if the enraged individual has a weapon or what kind of critical harm could come to you if you engage.


For your safety, we encourage you to do all that you can to avoid road rage.  Following these tips can help you stay safe from this growing and dangerous activity that is plaguing the freeways and interstates of not just the U.S. but other countries as well.  If you witness road rage but you are not directly involved you should still call 9-1-1 to protect yourself and others on the road. Stay safe on the road by using defensive driving techniques, avoid distractions, and avoiding road rage. Brush up on your driving skills by taking a safe driving course.  To learn more about driving courses available to you, contact your auto insurance provider.