Workplace Violence is a topic that plagues America. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there was a total of 4,383 work fatalities in 2012. Of this number, Workplace Violence accounted for 17 percent of all fatal work injuries occurring in 2012. The report further breaks this number into 463 homicides and 225 suicides. It further states that of the 338 fatal injuries involving female workers, 29 percent of them were homicides.
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.
Risk Factors for Workplace Violence 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 Workplace Violence 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, an early example of workplace violence took place on July 9, 1982. John Parish, 46, a trucker with Western Transportation Company in Grand Prairie, Texas, fatally shot several coworkers before hijacking a semi-truck, injuring and shooting others in the area. Reports say he was disputing his pay at the time.
April 2, 2012
One Goh, 43, of Oakland, California, shot at several students at Oikos University in Oakland. Witnesses say that he walked into the building looking for a particular administrator, but when learning she was not there, he opened fire upon fellow students. Reports state he was expelled from the university prior to the assault.
May 30, 2012
Ian Stawicki, of Seattle, Washington, opened fire upon patrons at Café Racer Espresso in Seattle. The assailant committed a second shooting at a second location in Seattle later in the day, carjacking and shooting a woman. Some reports state that he had been thrown out of the café earlier in the day. Other reports have witnesses observing strange out-of-character behavior from the assailant shortly before the attack.
July 20, 2012
James Holmes, 24, of Aurora, Colorado, entered a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises at a Cinemark 16 movie theater. Mr. Holmes then opened fire on the occupants. He later told authorities he had booby trapped his apartment. He later plead guilty by reason of insanity.
October 21, 2012
Radcliffe Haughton, 45, of Brown Deer, Wisconsin, opened fire in Azana Spa in Brookfield, Wisconsin, where his estranged wife was employed. At the time of the assault, Haughton had a restraining order issued against him and was not allowed to have firearms.
December 14, 2012
Adam Lanza, 20, of Newtown, Connecticut, entered Sandy Hook Elementary School near his home and opened fire on students and staff. Prior to the assault, he shot his mother in their shared home.
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 company’s 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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