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Violence in the Workplace Still Number One Threat

Violence in the workplace, and the damaging trauma caused by such events, continues to be the leading concern of security managers at America's largest corporations, according to "Top Security Threats," a survey of Fortune 1000 companies conducted annually by Pinkerton.

For three years now, security managers have proclaimed workplace violence as their number one security threat. But this year, a related concern, pre-employment screening, advanced from fifth to third place.

In a tight labor market, managers are worried about who they are hiring and the related security concerns.

Clearly, the threat of employee-generated or employee-related violence is causing consternation. This is a wake-up call to all managers to increase their awareness of the issues and establish crisis plans in the event of such incidents.

Internet/intranet security, including threat posed by hacker's viruses such as the "I Love You" virus, placed second on the list, for the second year running. The potential for theft of trade secrets and customer information, damage to sensitive data and interruption of commerce presents unprecedented vulnerability to businesses.

Ranked in order, the study revealed the following "Top 10" issues of greatest concern to corporate security directors:

  1. Workplace Violence
  2. Internet/Intranet Security
  3. Employee Selection/Screening Concerns
  4. Fraud/White-collar Crime
  5. Business Interruption/Disaster Recovery
  6. General Employee Theft
  7. Hardware/Software Theft
  8. Drugs/Alcohol in the Workplace
  9. Unethical Business Conduct
  10. Property Crime (external theft, vandalism)
  • Each workday, an estimated 16,400 threats are made, 723 workers are attached and 43,800 are harassed (Workplace Violence Research Institute).
  • More than 1,000 US workers are victims of homicide at work each year (OSHA).
  • A study by a major life insurance company found that one in four full-time workers has been harassed, threatened or attacked, and that co-workers accounted for most of the harassment, followed by customers.
  • Approximately two million assaults and threats of violence occur each year in the workplace (United States Department of Justice),
  • Estimates suggest that workplace violence costs U.S. businesses as much as $4.2 billion annually.