Workplace assault is, unfortunately, a fact that American workers have to face every single day when reporting to work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2015 alone, the state of Arizona saw 69 total fatal workplace injuries. Of this number, 15 occurred because of assault. This equates to 21%. Nearly a quarter of workplace deaths in 2015 were due to workplace assault. This figure is staggering.
Among other things, workplace assault adds to the violent crime average. Workplace assault does not always involve disgruntled employees. As declared by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the assailant has no known relationship to the victims in two-thirds of workplace homicides. Additionally, many people who commit workplace assault have something else going on in their lives such as mental illness, drug abuse, divorce or what they may believe is a failure.
What are Some of the Indicators and Risk Factors for Assault in the Workplace?
There are several signs and risk factors for workplace assault. If employers and employees pay close attention to the warning signs and risk factors, workplace assault could potentially be prevented from happening in the first place.
Not all workplace assault is committed by a disgruntled employee. The following risk factors reflect risks for workplace assault perpetrated by an outside assailant who is not an employee:
Risk Factors for Assault in the Workplace from an Outside Assailant
- Working alone or in an isolated area
- Where alcohol is served
- Working late at night
- Working in high crime rate areas
- An environment where money is exchanged with the public
As a whole, there are also risk factors for workplace assault committed by disgruntled employees and outside assailants:
Indicators for Assault in the Workplace as a Whole
- Verbal threats to other employees
- Displaying paranoia
- A fascination with assault
- Bizarre behaviors
- Being unreasonable
- Irresponsible actions
- A vindictive nature
- Chronic depression
- Substance / Alcohol Abuse
- Changes in performance
Five Surprising Acts of Workplace Assault in Arizona
The threat of assault in the workplace is real. Moreover, these statistics validate the reality that assault in the workplace is often a deadly incident that can happen to any business.
- January 8, 2011 – Jared Loughner, of Tuscon, Arizona, shot Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords point-blank at a Safeway grocery store, then others at random. Giffords had been participating in a constituent meeting in the grocery store parking lot before the shooting.
- October 1, 2017 – A yet to be named gunman in Avondale, Arizona, opened fire outside of the Light House Sports Bar and Grill in Avondale. A man was killed and a woman was injured. Police believe the incident is gang-related.
- December 3, 2016 – Ebonice Johnson, 24, of Prescott, Arizona, was arrested after making threats in the Prescott Wal-Mart. The assailant was an employee at the store and had an altercation with coworkers earlier in the night. She left the store and later returned with a firearm. A customer alerted a manager to the situation after observing the assailant. The manager alerted police and arrested the attacker without incident. Reports state that the assailant relayed her intentions to family and friends shortly before attempting to carry out the threats.
- January 14, 2014 – An unnamed female shooter in Phoenix was injured after trying to rob a jewelry store. The assailant entered the store while flashing a firearm and exchanged fire with the shop employee. The injuries sustained were not life-threatening.
- January 16, 2014 – An unnamed assailant in Tuscon held two bank tellers hostage at the Hughes Federal Credit Union. Reports state that the gunman forced his way into the building before opening and ran away with cash.
How to Avoid Workplace Assault
Proper planning and training can significantly reduce the injuries and victimization caused by workplace assault. Security, whether it is staff or just general procedures, should be taken extremely seriously. Several safety measures that can help reduce victimization include an incident response plan, panic button system, and surveillance cameras.
The first minute of a workplace assault incident is the most critical moment of a company’s emergency response. Simple steps, such as knowing where building exits are located, can help boost survival in the case of workplace assault.
There is no one failsafe way to prevent instances of workplace assault. However, technologies offered by CRS Notify can lessen the chances of victimization. CRS Notify panic buttons can notify authorities in an instant with E911 integration. Additionally, those who are set to receive alerts can know what is happening and plan accordingly.
In conclusion, it is important for staff to become familiar with assault prevention and incident response plans within the facility. Without these kinds of policies in place, staff may not know how to act in the face of an emergency. When certain policies are enacted, employees can be more confident in their reactions. It is always smart to trust intuition when something just doesn’t seem right. Suspicious behavior should always be reported. Remember: informed employees can help keep workplace assault and the repercussions of workplace assault down to a minimum.
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