The True Definition of Workplace Violence

As long as it’s related to work, it’s workplace violence.

Posted by Timothy Dimoff in on May 10th, 2016

In my previous blogs, I have covered much about workplace violence and workplace violence prevention but today I would like to explain what exactly constitutes workplace violence. The term “workplace violence” has become commonplace in our society. But what does it really mean? What is the real definition of workplace violence?

While most people think of it as physical, it is actually a term that encompasses much more.
We tend to think of it as a shooting or other horrific incident, but in actuality workplace violence refers to any violence whether in the workplace or outside of the workplace, as long as it is related to work. It is usually in the form of physical abuse or a threat that creates a risk to the health and safety of an employee or multiple employees, or anyone you do business with.

Not Always Physical

While most people think of it as physical, it is actually a term that encompasses much more. Workplace violence, in reality, is any act in which a person is abused, threatened, intimidated or assaulted, in or during his or her employment. 

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Not Always at Work

A threatening phone call from a client to an employee’s home can even be construed as workplace violence.
As I mentioned, workplace violence is not limited to your physical workplace. It can occur at off-site business-related functions such as conferences or trade shows, at business related social events, or anywhere else that is related to work. A threatening phone call from a client to an employee’s home can even be construed as workplace violence.

Workplace violence can include any of the following, from simple gestures that can be construed as threatening, to criminally violent acts:

  • shaking fists
  • destroying property
  • throwing objects
  • any threats whether verbal or written
  • any harassment, including words or other actions that embarrass, humiliate, abuse or bully
  • any act of physical threats, including hitting, pushing, etc.
  • spreading rumors
  • pranks
  • vandalism
  • rape
  • murder
  • psychological trauma
  • theft

Commit to Prevention

In order to help prevent workplace violence, it is essential for your management to truly understand what constitutes workplace violence in all its various forms, and to be committed to its prevention. Management making a commitment to violence prevention training at all levels within your organization will go a long way in preventing workplace violence and keeping your employees and clients safe.


Timothy Dimoff
Timothy Dimoff

President, SACS Consulting & Investigative Services

Timothy A. Dimoff, CPP, president of SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Inc., is a speaker, trainer and author and a leading authority in high-risk workplace and human resource security and crime issues.
He is a Certified Protection Professional; a certified legal expert in corporate security procedures and training; a member of the Ohio and International Narcotic Associations; the Ohio and National Societies for Human Resource Managers; and the American Society for Industrial Security. He holds a B.S. in Sociology, with an emphasis in criminology, from Dennison University.

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