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Workplace Violence

Trust your instincts

We cannot predict the origin of the next threat. Assailants in incidents across the nation have been students, employees, and visitors. In many cases there were no obvious specific targets and the victims were unaware that they were a target until attacked. Being aware of your surroundings, taking common sense precautions, and heeding any warning information can help protect you and other members of the community. Violent incidents such as an act of terrorism, an active shooter(s), assaults, or other forms of workplace violence can occur on or proximate to the university with little or no warning.

Before workplace violence occurs, every campus office or department should perform an initial assessment to identify its particular workplace security issues. If that assessment determines university employees are at significant risk, the responsible manager or supervisor should contact the Virginia Tech Police Department for additional information and training.

For additional information on ways to recognize danger and to minimize the risk of violence at work, see Policy 5616 (Virginia Tech Human Resources) and Work Place Violence (Virginia Tech Environmental Health and Safety).

Potential indicators of violence

If one or more of the following is present, then the risk for potential violence is a little higher:

  • Working alone at night and during early morning hours.
  • Exchange of money or the availability of valued items such as money, jewelry, or prescription drugs.
  • Working with patients, clients, customers, or students known or suspected to have a history of violence.
  • Employees/former employees with a history of assaults or who exhibit belligerent, intimidating, or threatening behavior.
  • Employees who have been the object of belligerent, intimidating, or threatening behavior.

If you encounter or witness acts of violence in the workplace

  • Report the incident to the police as soon as you can, if they haven’t already been contacted.
  • Secure the area where the disturbance occurred. The area may be considered a crime scene, so leave everything untouched until the police arrive. Call for medical assistance if necessary. Call 911.
  • If business must continue, shift personnel as needed to cover essential work functions.
  • Be supportive. The victim(s), witnesses, and other employees may need access to critical incident debriefing or counseling. Contact Human Resources at 540-231-9331 for guidance or assistance as needed.

For more information on how to react to an act of violence, see: