Workplace violence is an occupational safety and health hazard that demands action, and issuing body armour to those frontline staff at risk ought to be an option.
Whether the risk of violence comes from a client, patient or another member of the public, employees deserve a safe workplace. Employers must be provided with all appropriate tools to develop comprehensive plans to reduce levels of risk. Body armour certainly can be a great and potentially life saving tool.
Are you aware that homicide (murder) is the second leading cause of fatal occupational injury in the United States? Yes, in fact nearly 1,000 workers are murdered and 1.5 million are assaulted in the workplace each year.
According to the US National Crime Victimization Survey, 2 million assaults and threats of violence against Americans at work occur annually. The most common type of workplace crime was assault with an average of 1.5 million a year. The most common motive for job-related homicide is robbery, accounting for 85 percent of workplace violence deaths. There is no doubt in my mind that security professionals wearing none-confrontational looking body armour have a higher chance of staying safe.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) provides information that illustrates anyone can become the victim of a workplace assault, but the risks are greater for workplace violence in certain industries and occupations. In the US the taxi industry has the highest risk, nearly 60 times the national average for potential workplace violence.
However, other occupations at greatest risk include police, prison and security guards… professions in which body armour certainly make sense. In the above study, retail sales workers were the most numerous victims, with 330,000 being attacked each year.
The Workplace Violence Research Institute estimated costs of workplace violence to US businesses at $36 billion per year. Costs include medical and psychiatric care, lost business and productivity, repairs and clean up, higher insurance rates, increased security costs, and worst of all, the loss of valued employees. Compared to the one-off cost of lightweight body armour the potential legal cost/repercussions and the potential operational cost/repercussion in case en employee suffers from workplace violence related injuries are enormous.