Workplace violence is a topic that plagues America. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there was a total of 4,340 work fatalities reported in 2009. Of this number, workplace violence accounted for 12 percent of all fatal work injuries occurring in 2009. The report further states that of the 319 fatal injuries to female workers, 26 percent were due to violence. Consequently, of the 4,021 fatalities to male workers, 11 percent were due to violence.
Workplace violence is not always about work-related issues. Most people assume that disgruntled workers are usually the culprit. However, that is not necessarily the case. As reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in two-thirds of workplace homicides, the attacker has no known personal relationship with the victims. Furthermore, most assailants who are employees commit workplace violence due to something else going on in their lives. Some of the more typical reasons for workplace violence are mental illness, drug abuse, divorce, or perceived personal failure.
Close to half of all workplace violence happens in a public environment. It is virtually impossible to work on solving the issue of violence in the workplace when most companies do not see it as a problem. The estimated cost of a workplace homicide to the employer is a whopping $800,000.00. It is safe to say that it would be less expensive to take action against workplace violence. Moreover, did you know that 27% of businesses have experienced at least one violent workplace incident within the last five years?
What are Some of the Indicators and Risk Factors for Workplace Violence?
There are several signs and risk factors for workplace violence. Researchers have configured and identified a list of factors that may increase the possibility of violence in the workplace. However, the good news is if employers pay attention to the warning signs and risk factors, they can address the problem issues beforehand.
Risk Factors for Workplace Violence 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
Indicators for Workplace Violence as a Whole
- Verbal threats to other employees
- Displaying paranoia
- A fascination with violence
- Bizarre behaviors
- Being unreasonable
- Irresponsible actions
- A vindictive nature
- Chronic depression
- Substance / Alcohol Abuse
- Changes in performance
Five Surprising Acts of Workplace Violence
The threat of violence in the workplace is real. Moreover, these statistics validate the reality that violence in the workplace is often a deadly incident that can happen to any business.
For example, an early example of workplace violence took place on September 4, 1977. A Chinese youth gang, members of varying ages, shot into the Golden Dragon Restaurant in San Francisco, California. The motive was speculated to be related to gang rivalries.
November 5, 2009
Nidal Hasan, 39, an Army Medical Corps psychiatrist, walked into Fort Hood, Texas, and opened fire on those inside. Sources say that as a practicing Muslim, the assailant felt sympathetic to Muslims overseas and expressed a desire to not remain in the military.
October 12, 2009
Maurice Clemmons, 37, shot four police officers as they sat in a Forza Coffee Company coffee shop in Parkland, Washington before their shifts starting. Clemmons had reportedly bragged to family and friends about harming law personnel before the assault taking place. He also had a prior 95-year sentence for aggravated robbery commuted by then-Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and was moved to Washington in 2004.
March 29, 2009
Robert Stewart, 45, of Carthage, North Carolina, first opened fire in the parking lot of Pinelake Health and Rehabilitation, a nursing home in Carthage. He then entered the building and fired shots at residents and staff. The apparent target, the assailant’s ex-wife who worked at the facility, was unharmed because she was hiding in a locked office.
April 3, 2009
Jiverly Wong, 41, a naturalized American citizen in Binghamton, New York, opened fire at the American Civic Association immigration center in Binghamton. Sources say the assailant had recently been laid off from his job and had been having trouble finding steady work.
August 4, 2009
George Sodini, 48, of Scott Township, Pennsylvania, walked into a women’s aerobics class in an LA Fitness in Collier Township, Pennsylvania, and opened fire. In a blog attributed to the assailant, he lamented about his personal life and contemplated committing the shooting.
Active Shooter Situations in the Workplace
Proper planning and training can reduce injuries related to an active shooter incident. Controlling the impact of an active shooter involves many layers of security. Those layers can consist of an incident response plan, a panic button system, security staff and surveillance cameras.
The first step is to know what to do in those critical moments. The first minute of an active shooter incident is the most important time of your company’s emergency response. Training and being mentally prepared to take action in a crisis can make a big difference. Furthermore, just knowing where all of the building exits and locking doors are located can help boost a person’s survival.
Moreover, there is no foolproof way to avert an active shooter incident. However, with the speed and accuracy of information given in the initiated alert can contribute to impact a positive result. Additionally, there is new technology available that enables mass notification to those who need to know about the crisis to increase the probability of a successful emergency response.
In conclusion, I encourage you and your staff to become familiar with the violence prevention and incident response plans for your facility. An essential part of violence prevention is to utilize those policy resources when you feel it is necessary. Report unusual or suspicious behavior to administrators immediately. Moreover, trust that “uh-oh” feeling when things just don’t seem legit. Practice incident response plans at least quarterly so that the training remains fresh. If employees have clear policies and procedures to follow during a crisis, they can protect themselves more efficiently. Hundreds people’s lives are lost every year to violence in the workplace. Arm your employees with the tools and knowledge they need to make an appropriate decision.