Workplace violence is an issue that plagues the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4,821 fatal workplace injuries were reported in 2014. Of that number, 8% were workplace homicides. According to the same report, 19% of the fatal workplace fatalities were attributed to homicides committed against women. The counterpart number for men was less than half at 8%.
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. For instance, 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. However, 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 workplace shooting was on December 16, 1935. Kenneth Layman, a recently-discharged Los Angeles-area WPA worker, returned to the worksite and shot seven former co-workers. He was later found not guilty by reason of insanity.
April 30, 2014
– Jesus Delarca-Reyes, 20, a former construction worker in Austin, Texas, returned to a work site after his employment was terminated two weeks prior. The foreman asked him to leave, and Delarca-Reyes refused, and instead shot the foreman in the leg. The foreman, who had a concealed carry license, pulled out his own weapon and shot the assailant. Delarca-Reyes was only on the job for a week before being fired.
July 11, 2014
– An unnamed assailant walked into a business in North Las Vegas, Nevada, and fired shots upon an employee. Reports state that police were called to the scene of two employees fighting when one pulled out a gun and shot the second employee. They believe the victim and assailant knew each other.
October 30, 2014
– Alizera Nikmanesh, 41, a delivery driver for a Pizza Hut in Plano, Texas, shot and killed his manager after a meeting terminating his employment. The two met at an area Subway restaurant for the meeting. Nikmanesh followed his manager to his car to receive a final paycheck. He refused the paycheck and instead shot his manager as he walked back toward the restaurant.
December 11, 2014
– An unnamed assailant fired shots in an Albuquerque, New Mexico, office building. Two office workers entered the office the assailant was in, talked him down and disarmed him. Reports state that the assailant was intoxicated and was taken by police for a mental evaluation. Reports do not state if there was a relationship between the assailant and the office workers.
December 30, 2014
– Benjamin Parangan Jr., 47, a maintenance worker at Living Water Fellowship Church in Osceola County, Florida, pulled a gun and fired shots at the pastor during a meeting to terminate Parangan’s employment. The pastor was not injured and returned fire from his own weapon. Reports state that both men had concealed weapons permits.
Active Shooter Situations in the Workplace
Proper planning and training can reduce injuries related to an active shooter incident. In fact, 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 moment 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 of 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.