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Violence in the Workplace: From Bullying to Terrorism


Organizations can prevent and respond to workplace violence through a combination of planning, training and preparation, according to speakers on Marsh’s March 23 The New Reality of Risk® webcast.

Federal regulators consider “workplace violence” to include acts of physical and verbal abuse, including bullying, according to JoAnn Sullivan, a consultant with Marsh Risk Consulting’s Workforce Strategies Practice. And although recent active shooter events have garnered significant media attention, violent events in the workplace can take many shapes and forms, and often do not involve the use of weapons.

Although there is no typical profile of an employee or other individual who commits workplace violence, there are almost always warning signs that someone may be progressing toward violence, said Randy Spivey, CEO and president of the Center for Personal Protection and Safety. Managers, supervisors, and employees should be trained to watch for and report such “behaviors of concern,” including aggressive outbursts or displays of temper, or a fascination with weapons and violent media content.

Organizations should also work to:

  • Develop policies regarding violence prevention and response.
  • Train members of dedicated threat assessment or response teams.
  • Create plans to respond to victims’ needs after incidents of violence.

In addition, organizations should develop crisis management plans to consider key response decisions and implement accompanying strategies in a coordinated and structured manner, said Renata Elias, a consultant with Marsh Risk Consulting’s Strategic Risk Consulting Practice. A central crisis management team should include representatives from all major functional areas, including legal, finance, human resources, communications, and operations.

The panel also discussed insurance options for businesses to protect against workplace violence, including workers’ compensation, emerging active shooter/active assailant coverage, and property terrorism insurance. Recent attacks in San Bernardino, California, Paris, and Sydney demonstrate the potential for terrorist organizations or lone actors to target workplaces, or areas near workplaces.

Among other options, businesses can:

  • Purchase standalone property terrorism insurance policies.
  • Purchase terrorism coverage as part of their “all-risk” property policies, under the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2015 (TRIPRA).
  • Obtain terrorism coverage through captive insurers.

Multinational businesses can supplement this terrorism coverage through political risk and political violence insurance coverage, which can provide coverage for war, civil war, and other civil disturbances.

Listen to the webcast replay.