What Can You Do After Workplace Violence?

In 2017, 16% of all workplace-related deaths were caused by violence. In that year alone, 807 workers were killed while they were doing their jobs, never expecting that when they clocked in that morning they might never clock out again.

Even if you are not injured, witnessing workplace violence and fearing for your own safety can be a traumatic experience. Your emotional recovery from trauma after an incident could take months or longer. If you are physically injured, recovery may even take years, while some people will never recover at all. 


In most cases, those who experience or witness violence at work will eventually return to their jobs. Even if they don’t feel safe, many individuals must return to work out of financial necessity. If a violent incident happened at your place of employment, you may feel:

  • Denial
  • Numbness
  • Shock
  • Fear
  • Rage
  • Hypervigilance 
  • Nightmares
  • Flashbacks 
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Panic attacks

Once your physical wounds have been treated, your number-one priority may be to take care of your emotional health. Your company may provide access to counselors who can help you process what has happened so you can recover.

The 4 Types of Workplace Violence

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), workplace violence is more than just physical violence. It also includes threats, harassment, and intimidation. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health divides workplace violence into four main categories. 

Criminal Intent

Workplace violence as a result of criminal intent is violence that typically takes place as another crime is being committed by someone who is not affiliated with the company. This could include armed robbery or a man who gets violent during an arrest after being caught shoplifting.

Client or Customer

Customer violence is defined as a client who becomes violent while conducting business with your company. This could be someone who begins threatening employees when they are dissatisfied with a product or service.

Coworker vs. Coworker

Coworker violence happens when two or more employees of the same company or a related contractor engage in a physical altercation. Another form of coworker violence is an employee who is terminated and comes back with a gun. 

Personal Relationship

When an employee is physically attacked at work by someone they know from outside the workplace, it is personal relationship workplace violence. The victims in these cases are typically women. One example would be an abusive man who kills his wife while she is working.

How to Handle the Aftermath of Workplace Violence

After an act of violence at work, you will need to focus on self-care. Consider taking advantage of any psychiatric or counseling services that are available to you. You may have post-traumatic stress disorder or another psychiatric condition. 

If you believe the act of violence may have been caused by negligence on the part of your company, you may want to consider getting a case review for free with a lawyer who specializes in these cases. Some examples of a workplaces liability include:

  • Failing to act on complaints about an aggressive coworker
  • Chronic understaffing issues that lead to tension
  • Overworking employees, leaving them frustrated and exhausted

You will also want to report the incident with your employer and the police. You will need this evidence if you decide to pursue a case against the perpetrator or your employer. When possible, you may also want to collect video and photo evidence of the scene and any injuries you’ve sustained.

Your recovery may not be easy, but help is available. Even if your employer doesn’t provide trauma or grief, loss, and bereavement counseling, there are free and sliding-scale trauma therapy resources you may be able to take advantage of.