Approximately two weeks ago, I posted an article relating to the severity of workplace violence. These crimes are not only increasing, but appear to be happening in all types of operations. For example, I have listed seven of these crimes that have taken place between January 1 and June 30, 2017.
Acts of Workplace Violence: (Note: Killings taking place during armed robberies are not listed.)
June 30th, a former short-term doctor of a Bronx New York hospital returned to the hospital armed with an AR-15 assault rifle, and shortly before 3 p.m., he made his way without interruption to the 16th floor of the 972-bed hospital. “He’s shooting! He’s shooting!” one woman yelled as the perpetrator went on a rampage, killing one doctor and wounding six other people—five of them seriously— before setting himself on fire and committed suicide with a self-inflicted bullet to his head. Reportedly, police found the gunman — wearing a white lab coat and carrying ID — dead on the 17th floor. “It’s been happening almost anywhere, but nobody was waiting for this,” a bed-ridden patient said, referring to the workplace shooting. “Who would have thought it would happen in a hospital?”
UPS San Francisco:
June 14th, Shortly before the 8:30 a.m. daily meeting — consisting of approximately fifty-five drivers and supervisors — getting underway, a San Francisco UPS driver open fire on his coworkers—killing three and wounding two others—before killing himself. One long-term employee said, “We have metal detectors, but if a person can get into a job with a gun, how safe can it be?” While the actual motive for the shootings was unknown, a coworker allegedly said that the shooter was “kind of a quiet dude, but a hard worker who was always angry about doing his overtime.”
Grocery Store, Northeast Pennsylvania:
June 8: State Police say the man who trapped and killed three nighttime co-workers inside a grocery store that was closed to the public left an online trail behind that included praise for the 1999 Columbine High School shooters. Police said that the perpetrator reported to work at 11 p.m. and spent the first 90 minutes of his shift blocking exits with pallets and other items. According to one report, the shooter returned to his car a short time later and removed a duffel bag containing two pistol-grip shotguns, brought them into the store and at approximately 12:50 a.m. the shooter opened fire killing three of his four coworkers. In addition to the killings, he also shot up the store, damaging merchandise, counters and other parts of the interior; in total 59 rounds were fired. The remaining uninjured coworker escaped the store and called 911. Investigators are looking at subject’s online activity for clues to his motive.
Awnings Manufacture, Orlando, Florida:
June 5: A previously fired worker returned to his former place of employment, entered the building by slipping through an unmonitored back door, and targeted and fatally shot five employees before taking his own life. The Orlando Sheriff said that in 2014, the shooter was accused of battering another employee at the jobsite; no charges were filed. It was reported the perpetrator had a minor criminal history that included DUI and marijuana possession.
Nursing Home, Kirkersville, Ohio:
May 13: Police chief died in the line of duty after being ambushed at a nursing home. Also killed were two of the facility’s nurses. The shooter then turned the gun on himself and took his own life. Reports indicated the shooter had previously been sentenced to two years in prison in April 2010 for assault and abduction, only to be released in December 2010. He was again arrested for domestic violence in January 2017. Motive for this shooting is unknown.
Automotive Interiors Plant, Fountain Inn, South Carolina
May 5: Police reported that an automotive interiors plant’s part-time employee — with a record of several criminal convictions — allegedly became involved in a dispute and two employees were hurt and taken to the hospital. According to the media, the plant confirmed shots were fired. However, the investigation revealed that the two victims were not shot and had non-life-threatening injuries. The alleged shooter’s criminal record included involuntary manslaughter and a prison term of 15 years.
Hospice and Home Health Office, Dallas, Texas
April 25: A 60-year-old male employee entered his employer’s office building, went to a meeting room where his supervisor was present, pulled out a gun, and shot and killed his 48-year-old female boss. According to media sources the shooter knew that he was going to be fired from the hospice and home health care employer. The victim was recently married and was mother to seven children. The perpetrator didn’t have any criminal history.
Elementary School, San Bernardino, California:
April 10: After being granted entry to his estranged wife’s elementary school, the gunman entered the special needs classroom where his wife was the teacher and opened fire. When the carnage was over, his estranged wife was dead and two young students shot. One of the students died after being rushed to the hospital. The gunman committed suicide by shooting himself. This shooter allegedly checked into the school’s front office and followed the school’s family member admission protocols. According to police, when school staff let the subject in, they had no prior knowledge of the ongoing conflict between slain teacher and the estranged husband who shot her and two students.
Non-Fatal Acts: The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that approximately two million people throughout the country are victims of non-fatal violence at the workplace. Furthermore, officials at the Department of Justice are on record for indicating that violence is a leading cause of fatal injuries at work with about 1,000 workplace homicides each year.
So what does all this government rhetoric mean? First, understand that the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) requires employers to maintain reasonably safe and healthy workplaces, which extends to some incidents of workplace violence. With that said, just remember that no employer is immune from workplace violence and no employer can totally prevent it.
There is much information pertaining to workplace violence-related preventative measures and programs available on the Internet. Take advantage of this free assistance.
Naturally it’s easy to say, Adopt a formal workplace violence policy and prevention program and communicate it to employees. And that is the correct thing to do, but…. Developing a comprehensive program still takes a good deal of expertise and time. To quickly get your strategies underway, I offer the below “tips” for your consideration:
1 Identify and screen out potentially violent individuals before hiring while maintaining compliance with privacy protections and antidiscrimination laws.
2. Evaluate security and door controls regularly including alarms. Having adequate entrance and remote door and package check controls in place are critical. Also ensure that ID, keys and pass codes are current and not accessible to anyone terminated.
3. Establish procedures and avenues for employees to report threats, other violence or if there’s imminent danger. Encourage employees with restraining or protective orders against an individual to provide that person’s information and photo so access can be denied to anyone considered a potential threat.
4. Terminate employees with care and caution by involving witnesses or security for violent employees. Document any threats and your response to them including terminating employees who make a threat.
5. Look out for and take steps to reduce negativity and stress in the workplace, which can precipitate problematic behavior.
Now, take another look at each of my seven case examples above. Ask yourself, based upon each summary, what could have been done to possibly prevent that particular violent act? Ask yourself, could any of these acts take place in my operation?
The information provided in this article is intended for educational purposes only. No further representation is made.