Threat Awareness: the 5 Types of Workplace Violence

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“Workplace violence is broadly defined as any act or threat of physical violence in which a company employee is involved.”


With such a broad definition, this term includes violent incidents that range from bullying, intimidation and harassment to theft, physical violence and even terrorism. So with such an important subject that can impact any business, why is it still a topic that is misunderstood?

It is essential to understand what workplace violence actually means and all of the different types that can occur, as how else can businesses develop an effective prevention and management plan? Only when workplace violence is broken down and understood can managers prevent, report and respond to any incidents efficiently and effectively.

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To help you do this, we at RGM have put together the 5 types of workplace violence that can occur.

Workplace violence can occur between an employee and a…


Workplace violence that involves a criminal is usually a random act where the primary motive is theft. More often than not, the criminal has no relationship with the establishment and the violence occurs during shoplifting, an attempted robbery or a trespassing incident.

Workers at risk: any business that has direct public contact, handles cash, has high-value items and/or requires workers to work early or late hours or alone.



Workplace violence that involves a customer or client usually occurs in organisations where there is high stress or emotion involved, such as the A&E department of a hospital. The violence usually occurs in conjunction with the worker’s normal duties so this can be difficult to manage.

Workers at risk: anybody who works in the private sector and in organisations with a large population (hospitals, schools and universities), with healthcare and social service workers being more at risk.


Spouse/Significant Other

Workplace violence that involves an employee and their spouse or significant other can also be referred to as domestic violence that occurs in the workplace. This is when an employee’s partner specifically targets them at work and this type of violence is often the most frequent as the abuser knows exactly where they will be and at what times.

Workers at risk: any worker that has recently or is currently going through a divorce or separation. The risk of violence is often higher for female workers and is more likely to occur in organisations that are easily accessible to the public.


An Employee

Workplace violence can also occur between two or more employees within a company. More often than not, the reason for violence is personal, such as bullying, loss or trauma, or due to work-related conflicts. Common incidences of violence are made by former employees but current employees can also cause issues. 

Workers at risk: managers and supervisors who work in organisations with a large employee population, especially where employees work closely for long periods or in conditions of high stress or emotion.


Person/People Committing Acts of Terrorism

This type of workplace violence is usually carried out by an extremist person or people who want to make an ideological, religious or political statement. Justifying their actions with their beliefs, their violent acts can range from mailed threats to bombs or active shooter situations.

Workers at risk: any business that is in a main city or buildings of importance such as airports, train or subway stations or major shopping centres. Workers that have direct public contact should also be trained to be aware.

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As workplace violence is one of the leading causes of job-related deaths, especially acts carried out by criminals or an employee’s significant other, it is essential that all organisations are aware of all potential situations that can occur so that they can implement effective prevention strategies to manage them.


What we can do for you:

If you’re interested in knowing more about threat awareness training for your staff, RGM are offering training courses developed by Counter Terrorism and Threat Specialists. If you need training or just advice, please don’t hesitate to contact us.


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