Violence in the Workplace is a constant issue that plagues the United States. One of the most common forms of violence in the workplace 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 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
Five 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.
- September 27, 2012 – Andrew Engeldinger killed himself after shooting and killing five co-workers at Accent Signage Systems.
- September 16, 2013 – Civilian contractor, Aaron Alexis, shot and killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard before he was killed in a police shootout.
- February 3, 2014 – David Reese age 53, shot and killed co-worker Aron Thomas age 33 at New York City Department of Environmental Protection office.
- August 26, 2015 – Former employee, Vester Lee Flanagan, of TV Station WDBJ in Roanoke, Virginia, shot and killed Allison Parker and Adam Ward during a live interview.
- March 10, 2016 – At Cummins Inc.’s engine plant in Seymour, Indiana the bodies of two employees were found in a nearby conference room. Qing Chen, 37, gunned down his manager, Ward Edwards, 49, and then killed himself.
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.
Managing the Threats of Workplace Violence 2016
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