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 Violence in the Workplace?
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 Violence 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
Indicators for 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
Surprising Acts of Violence in the Workplace
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, one of the earliest workplace shootings was on September 14, 1989. A disgruntled worker, Joseph Wesbecker, riddled with rage and mental illness, brought an AK-47 into Standard-Gravure printing plant in Louisville, Kentucky. He then killed eight employees before killing himself.
January 22, 2018: An unnamed 43-year-old assailant brandished a gun at Honie’s Wig and Supply in Wichita, Kansas. An employee at the store shot the assailant twice in defense. The assailant’s gun was later determined to be a toy.
January 22, 2018: An unnamed assailant was shot by a security officer at a VA hospital in Oregon after becoming combative with staff. Witnesses state the assailant was a military veteran seeking medical help for mental health issues. Witnesses also report the man pulled a knife and was shot by the security officer in self-defense.
January 27, 2018: An unknown assailant at the TAB bar in Philadelphia opened fire and injured two people. The assailant is still at large.
February 14, 2018: Ex-pupil shot dead 14 teenagers and three staff at Marjory Stoneman High School in Parkland, Florida. Another 17 victims were killed in the eighth deadliest shooting in modern US history.
March of 2018: A 19-year-old woman was given the incorrect breakfast sandwich at McDonald’s in Glendale, Wisconsin. She shoved a young employee after briefly arguing with the manager. The young employee hit her head on the frying station and had to receive care at a local medical facility.
April 3, 2018: Thirty-eight-year-old woman, Nasim Najafi Aghdam walked into Youtube headquarters with a semi-automatic pistol, and began shooting employees. Three other people were shot, but not fatally. The gunman committed suicide shortly after the shooting.
June 22, 2018: A 29-year-old man and his co-worker got into an altercation at J&R Engineering in Barberton, Ohio. The 29-year-old man pulled his gun and shot his coworker that he had the dispute with. The victim was taken to the hospital to receive treatment for a gunshot wound to the chest. Meanwhile, the shooter was arrested and charged with felony assault and holding a weapon under disability.
June 28, 2018: Jarrod W. Ramos, blasted his way into the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis with a shotgun killing five people, authorities said.
July 13, 2018: Johnnie Lee Fulton, was accused of firing a gun inside Warren Paving. The former employee turned himself into the authorities after being charged with firing shots inside the business. Luckily, no one was injured.
August 26, 2018: Two gamers are shot dead during a live stream of the Madden NFL Championship ’19 in Jacksonville, Florida. The shooter, named David Katz, then turned the gun on himself at the scene.
September 6, 2018: Omar Enrique Santa Perez, 29, killed three people and wounded 2 others in Cincinnati near Fountain Square.
October 28, 2018: Eleven people were killed after a gunman opened fire at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh during the Sabbath prayer.
November 8, 2018: Twelve people were killed including a police officer, after a gunman started shooting people at Borderline Bar in Thousand Oaks, California.
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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