Workplace Violence is a topic that plagues America. According to the FBI, of the 160 active shooter incidents in the United States between 2000 and 2013, over 80% happened in the Workplace. Another notable finding included the fact at 69% of the assaults ended in five minutes or less; nearly half ended in a minute or less. 60% of the assaults ended before the police arrived.
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 12, 1976. Edward Allaway, a janitor at California State University, Fullerton, shot several people in the university library. Allaway was found not guilty by reason of insanity. He is at a state mental hospital at the present time.
April 13, 2013
Dylan Quick, 20, a student at Lone Star College – CyFair, stabbed several students with an X-Acto knife and scalpel. Reports say that he planned the attack in advance. He was ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation the day after the attack.
June 7, 2013
John Zawahri, 23, of Santa Monica, carjacked a woman and shot at an occupied bus. He then entered the library at Santa Monica College and opened fire. Police say that the assailant was involved in a domestic dispute earlier in the day with his father and brother, shooting them and setting the house on fire. Police say that other than the assailant’s father and brother, all victims were chosen at random.
August 23, 2013
Hubert Allen Jr, 72, a former employee at Pritchett Trucking in Lake Butler, Florida, went to various locations in the city and shot several of his former coworkers before turning the gun on himself. Sources differ about whether Allen was fired or had retired prior to the assault.
September 16, 2013
Aaron Alexis, 34, a subcontractor at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., walked into his workplace and opened fire upon several of his coworkers. Sources speculate he was suffering from mental illness prior to the attack.
November 1, 2013
Paul Ciancia, 23, walked into Los Angeles International Airport and shot a TSA agent at point-blank range before opening fire in the terminal. Reports say that the assailant’s father called Los Angeles police to perform a welfare check after he received disturbing text messages. The police arrived at the assailant’s residence a few minutes after he had gone to the airport.
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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