IRSST - Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail


Violence in the Workplace: Tools and References for Preventing Violence

Violence in the Workplace: Tools and References for Preventing Violence

International Day of Non-Violence, established in 2007 by the United Nations General Assembly, is marked every year on October 2. Its aim is to promote human rights, equality between women and men, peace, and global security.

This year, the IRSST wishes to remind readers that prevention and intervention tools exist for situations involving violence. Violence can take different forms in the workplace. It can be physical or psychological, or a combination of both. It can be perpetrated by a co-worker, direct supervisor, client, or third party, and it can be an isolated act or the result of numerous actions.

A process and Web site at your fingertips

Prévention violence travail

An IRSST team and the RIPOST team (Équipe de Recherches sur les interrelations personnelles, organisationnelles et sociales du travail, or research group on personal, organizational and social interrelations at work) developed a Web site in 2013 to help organizations implement such a process in their workplace. The site provides strong arguments for raising awareness about interpersonal violence and offers concrete examples and turnkey tools applicable in companies. It sparked interest in a number of workplaces as soon as it went online.

These researchers had previously studied a participatory process aimed at preventing violence in the work environment of correctional services officers. The process consisted of an intervention in which employees and their supervisors identified the organizational constraints at the source of the violence, as well as possible solutions for eliminating and preventing it. This process had positive impacts in the correctional services sector, and the results are adaptable to other work environments.

Other researchers studied a violence-prevention program implemented at the Centre jeunesse de Montréal – Institut universitaire (CJM-IU, or Montreal youth centre – university institute), where the personnel are at high risk of exposure to physical assaults, attempted murders, suicides, and so on. The researchers described and evaluated the effectiveness of the Centre jeunesse’s intervention in this work context. This in turn enabled them to take an inventory of alternative interventions at other youth centres and evaluate their effects on workers who face traumatic events. The researchers were able to put forward recommendations for organizations whose workers are exposed to violent events.

Protecting police officers and emergency call centre agents against post-traumatic stress

Policier stress

Given their frequent exposure to traumatizing events, some police officers may develop post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSDs). Another team of researchers evaluated the risk factors (for PTSDs) and the protective factors that help these workers adapt to the consequences of their involvement in such events. These researchers also recommended possible prevention, evaluation and intervention strategies that could be implemented to reduce the negative impacts of risk factors and to promote the development of preventive mechanisms. This work may be of interest to military personnel, firefighters, first aiders and ambulance attendants.