Workplace Violence – Is Your Operation Vulnerable?
Increased acts of violence in the workplace is a trend that we must not ignore. In fact, there are over two million incidents of workplace violence reported on average annually, not including those incidents that go unreported. Although not all workplace violence results in fatalities, the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries for the years 2006–2014, conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, cited an average of 551 workers per year killed in work-related homicides.
When talking with management and asking why they do not have a workplace violence prevention plan in place, the feedback I most often hear is, “I don’t think we have a risk to workplace violence. Stuff like that only happens in big operations.” Wrong! Workplace violence can happen anywhere. It doesn’t matter whether your operation is large or small. Below are two recent examples to make my point that even the smallest shift can also become a potential hotbed for violence:
Orlando, Florida, June 5, 2017: 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.
Northeast Pennsylvania, June 8, 2017: 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 reported 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.
I am a great believer in warning signals or red flags. When it comes to workplace violence, I know of no evidence that suggest such acts of violence is spontaneous. People don’t “just go berserk” and suddenly become violent without provocation. In practically every incident, something took place in advance that triggered the violent act. Typically, these acts are planned and, in the majority of incidents, the offender targets a specific person or group.
If you do not have a comprehensive Workplace Violence Prevention Plan, check out a few of those found on the Internet. There are many comprehensive and good ideas out there.
Below are a couple of worthwhile government links:
The information provided in this article is intended for informational purposes only. No further representation is made.