Workplace Violence Statistics in 2016 Shook the United States to the Core

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It is no secret that workplace violence has plagued the United States for more than 100 years. One of the most common forms of workplace violence is of the psychological nature. Bullying, intimidation, and verbal threats are the least reported but the most common forms of workplace violence. However, according to FBI statistics, 80% of active shooter incidents occur in the workplace as well. Approximately 2 million people a year are affected by some form of workplace 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.


workplace violence

Risk Factors for Workplace Violence from an Outside Assailant

  1. Working alone or in an isolated area
  2. Where alcohol is served
  3. Working late at night
  4. Working in high crime rate areas
  5. An environment where money is exchanged with the public

 

 


Indicators of Violence in the Workplace 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, on July 12, 1976, 37-year-old Edward Charles Allaway armed with a .22-caliber semi-automatic rifle killed 7 people and injured two others in the library of California State University. Edward Allaway was the library custodian for California State University and suffered from a history of violence and mental illness.

After the shooting Allaway fled school campus and went to a hotel in Anaheim where he called authorities and confessed to his crime. Allaway was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and after being convicted by a jury. The judge then found Allaway to be insane and sentenced to Patton State Hospital where he received medical treatment. This was documented as the worst mass shooting in Fullerton, California until the Seal Beach shooting in 2011.

Statistics of Workplace Violence in 2016

  1. February 25, 2016    

    Cedric Ford, 38, an employee at Excel Industries in Kansas, opened fire inside the factory. Immediately prior to the workplace shooting, the assailant shot at motorists and stole a car that was driven to the scene. The gunman was killed during a shootout with police.

  2. March 7, 2016    

    James Cameau, 34, a recently-hired employee at Jacksonville Granite in Orange Park, Florida, attempted to open fire upon coworkers. His gun jammed several times before he was able to shoot one coworker, who later survived. The assailant later killed himself in a security closet where authorities say he was watching surveillance footage of the situation unfold.

  3. May 4, 2016    

    Marion Williams, 65, a former employee at Knight Transportation in Katy, Texas, returned to his former employer while firing shots. One person was killed while others sustained injuries from shrapnel. The assailant later committed suicide.

  4. September 23, 2016    

    Ricky Swafford, 45, an employee at Thomas & Betts fabrication factory in Athens, Tennessee, shot and killed his two supervisors before killing himself. Reports say the gunman was in a meeting with his two supervisors when he became enraged and abruptly left the meeting. He returned to the meeting and shot the two supervisors.

  5. November 15, 2016    

    Dean Buie, 45, a former Southwest Airlines employee, shot and killed another Southwest employee as he was leaving work at the Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City. Buie resigned from his job in 2015 after refusing to submit to an alcohol screening. Buie later committed suicide.


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 moment of your companies 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.

 

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