Eastern Michigan University

Environmental Health & Safety

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  • For assistance call 734.487.0799

Workplace Violence

In any situation where you feel threatened or an actual assault has occurred; call 911 immediately!

The probability is very low that any single individual will be involved in a violent workplace incident leading to serious injury. Still, prevention is critical and early intervention helps prevent more serious acts. Although not every incident can be prevented, many can, and the severity of injuries sustained by employees can be reduced.

Workplace Violence

The definitions provided here are intended to assist individuals in identifying disruptive behavior that should be reported so that it can be promptly and effectively addressed.


Workplace Violence

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) defines workplace violence as "violent acts (including physical assaults and threats of assaults) directed toward persons at work or on duty."


Disruptive Behavior

Disturbs, interferes with or prevents normal work functions or activities. Examples: yelling, using profanity, waving arms or fists, verbally abusing others, and refusing reasonable requests for identification.


Threatening Behavior

Includes physical actions short of actual contact/injury (e.g., moving closer aggressively), general oral or written threats to people or property, ["You better watch your back" or "I'll get you"] as well as implicit threats ["you'll be sorry" or "this isn't over"].


Violent Behavior

Includes any physical assault, with or without weapons; behavior that a reasonable person would interpret as being potentially violent [e.g., throwing things, pounding on a desk or door, or destroying property], or specific threats to inflict physical harm [e.g., a threat to shoot a named individual].


Response To Disruptive Behavior (No Threats Or Weapons)

1. Assess whether the individual seems dangerous. If in your best judgment he/she is upset but not a threat, set limits and seek assistance as necessary.

Workplace Violence

2. If possible, do not isolate yourself with an individual you believe may be dangerous. Maintain a safe distance, do not turn your back, and stay seated if possible.

3. Leave the door open or open a closed door, and sit near the door. Be sure a co-worker is near to help if needed.

4. Use a calm, non-confrontational approach to defuse the situation. Indicate your desire to listen and understand the problem. Allow the person to describe the problem.

5. NEVER touch the individual or try to remove him/her from the area. Even a gentle push or holding the person's arm may be interpreted as an assault by an agitated individual who may respond with violence towards you or file a lawsuit later.

6. Do not mention discipline or the police if you fear an angry or violent response.

7. If the situation escalates, find a way to excuse yourself, leave the room/area and get help.


Response To Threatening / Violent Behavior (Threats And / Or Weapon)

1. If an individual makes threats of physical harm toward you, others, or him/herself; has a weapon; or behaves in a manner that causes you to fear for your own or another's safety. Immediately call or have someone call for you EMU Public Safety at 734.487.1222 or call 911.

2. Do not attempt to intervene physically or deal with the situation yourself.

3. Get yourself and others to safety as quickly as possible.

4. If possible, keep a line open to police until they arrive. The more information the police receive, the more likely they can bring a potentially violent situation to a safe conclusion.

5. If shots are fired:

  • Remain calm.
  • Put distance between yourself and the offender. Make use of shielding if possible i.e., desk, filing cabinet, etc. between you and the suspect.
  • If possible, keep an escape route behind you.
  • If the offender leaves your area, lock your door immediately. Remain in the area (unless your safety is in jeopardy), and await further instructions from authorities.
  • If flight is impossible and there are no other options, make a personal choice to negotiate with or overpower the armed suspect.
  • Wait for the "all clear" instruction to be issued by EMU Public Safety.