Category Archives: Workplace Violence/Bullying

Combating the Varieties of Violence at Work

Source: William F. Badzmierowski, Campus Safety Magazine, November/December 2009

Bullying is a form of occupational stress that impacts people’s mental and physical health. There is also recent evidence that workplace-related stress elevates the risk of alcohol and drug abuse, and even coronary heart disease.

According to the American Medical Association, many reports of extreme violence in school settings have been linked to bullying. The perpetrators, often former targets, turn violent and take revenge – delineating a tragic cycle in which a bully’s physical intimidation leads to tragic consequences.

Five Easy Ways to Protect Staff from Violent Patients

Source: Scott Wallask, HealthLeaders Media, October 20, 2009

When a professional fighter allegedly went haywire in a Nevada hospital and attacked nurses, it briefly brought some national attention to a long-standing problem: violence against healthcare workers. Of course, it’s not just famous people or athletes who can cause trouble, which makes the challenge of protecting hospital employees daunting.

U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey

Source: Workplace Bullying Institute and Zogby International, 2007

The Workplace Bullying Institute partnered with Zogby International to conduct the first representative study of all adult Americans on the topic of workplace bullying. Sponsored by a generous gift from the Waitt Institute for Violence Prevention Cindy Waitt, Executive Director. The principal findings convinced doubters that bullying was a substantial problem of epidemic proportions.

* 37% of workers have been bullied: 13% currently and 24% previously
* Most bullies are bosses (72%)
* More perpetrators are men (60%) than are women(40%)
* Most Targets (57%) are women
* Women bullies target women (71%); men target men (54%)
* Bullying is 4 times more prevalent than illegal discriminatory harassment
* 62% of employers ignore the problem
* 45% of Targets suffer stress-related health problems
* 40% of bullied individuals never tell their employers
* Only 3% of bullied people file lawsuits

See also:
Results flyer

Violence Against Nurses Working in US Emergency Departments

Source: Jessica Gacki-Smith, Altair M. Juarez, Lara Boyett, Cathy Homeyer, Linda Robinson, Susan L. MacLean, JONA: The Journal of Nursing Administration, Volume 39 – Issue 7/8, July/August 2009
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The objective of this study was to investigate emergency nurses’ experiences and perceptions of violence from patients and visitors in US emergency departments (EDs).

Approximately 25% of respondents reported experiencing physical violence more than 20 times in the past 3 years, and almost 20% reported experiencing verbal abuse more than 200 times during the same period. Respondents who experienced frequent physical violence and/or frequent verbal abuse indicated fear of retaliation and lack of support from hospital administration and ED management as barriers to reporting workplace violence.

Violence against ED nurses is highly prevalent. Precipitating factors to violent incidents identified by respondents is consistent with the research literature; however, there is considerable potential to mitigate these factors. Commitment from hospital administrators, ED managers, and hospital security is necessary to facilitate improvement and ensure a safer workplace for ED nurses.

Inmate Assaults on Prison Staff- A Multilevel Examination of an Overlooked Form of Prison Violence

Source: Karen F. Lahm, The Prison Journal, Vol. 89, No. 2, June 2009
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Most of the extant literature on prison violence has explored inmate-on-inmate assaultive behaviors rather than inmate-on-staff assaults. In addition, the bulk of this past literature considered only one level of an analysis, the inmate or the prison, while ignoring the importance of prison context on inmate behavior. This study enhances past research by combining both inmate- and prison-level data into a multilevel model predicting the likelihood of inmate-on-staff assaults. Self-report data from more than 1,000 inmates and 30 prisons revealed that, at the inmate level, age and aggression were the most robust predictors of inmate-on-staff assaults. In terms of contextual effects, inmates housed in prisons with a greater proportion of non-White inmates and a larger staff-to-inmate ratio were more likely to assault prison staff members. Policy implications and suggestions for future research are discussed.

Public Employment, Free Speech, and Public Concern – Employee Motivation Not Dispositive

Source: Paul M. Secunda, Workplace Prof Blog, August 25, 2009

The Second Circuit revisited the question of whether the employee’s motive is dispositive in determining whether speech is on a matter of public concern (for those of you who were getting ready for me to lash out on Garcetti grounds for old time’s sake, the district court actually found the employee was speaking as a citizen and thus had potential First Amendment protections).

In Sousa v. Roque, No. 07-1892 (2nd Cir. Aug. 21, 2009), the Second Circuit concluded that the employee’s motive in speaking out is NOT dispositive on whether he spoke on a matter of public concern (the so-called Connick test and the second step in the public employee free speech five-step). The employee had been vocal about workplace violence issues and appeared to suffer various forms of retaliation for his pains.

Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Summary, 2008

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Economic News Release, USDL 09-0979, August 20, 2009

Key findings of the 2008 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries:

– Fatal work injuries in the private construction sector in 2008 declined by 20 percent from the updated 2007 total, twice the all-worker decline of 10 percent.
– Fatal workplace falls, which had risen to a series high in 2007, also declined by 20 percent in 2008.
– Workplace suicides were up 28 percent to a series high of 251 cases in 2008, but workplace homicides declined 18 percent in 2008.
– The number and rate of fatal work injuries among 16 to 17 year-old workers were higher in 2008.
– Fatal occupational injuries involving Hispanic or Latino workers in 2008 were 17 percent lower than in 2007. Fatalities among non-Hispanic Black or African American workers were down 16 percent.
– The number of fatal workplace injuries in farming, fishing, and forestry occupations rose 6 percent in 2008 after declining in 2007.
– Transportation incidents, which accounted for approximately two-fifths of all the workplace
fatalities in 2008, fell 13 percent from the previous series low of 2,351 cases reported in 2007.
See also:
* Table 1. Fatal occupational injuries by event or exposure, 2007-2008
* Table 2. Fatal occupational injuries by industry and selected event or exposure, 2008
* Table 3. Fatal occupational injuries by occupation and selected event or exposure, 2008
* Table 4. Fatal occupational injuries by selected worker characteristics and selected event or exposure, 2008
* Table 5. Fatal occupational injuries by State and event or exposure, 2008
* Table 6. CFOI participating State agencies and telephone numbers
* Technical notes
* HTML version of the entire news release

Uncovering Workplace Bullying

Source: Duncan Lewis, Michael Sheehan, Catherine Davies, Journal of Workplace Rights, Volume 13, Number 3, 2008
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Awareness of workplace bullying as an organisational phenomenon is one thing, but understanding the complexity and multifaceted nature of such a slippery concept is another. The gathering of information on workplace bullying can take many forms, including, for example, staff surveys, conversations, and casual anecdotes. How useful are these sorts of evidence in understanding and uncovering the phenomenon of workplace bullying? This article provides a case study that explores two routes to detecting the existence and prevalence of bullying at work. The use of a standardised instrument for measuring bullying at work coupled with an open-ended qualitative approach produces some interesting findings. By far the most useful evidence comes from the rich qualitative accounts of organisational participants. These everyday explanations of what bullying means to ordinary members of the workforce can be usefully classified using an existing typology of occupational violence. This classification might prove useful to those charged with eradicating the insidious behaviours that underpin bullying in organisations.