If your organization is stretched as thinly as most, it’s easy to overlook workplace violence policies. After all, you have a lot on your plate that’s more time-sensitive. Workplace violence strategies can wait until everything has calmed down.
Sadly, workplace violence remains a constant threat. Below are four recent cases of workplace violence that hit close to home. They should be taken as four shining examples of why every organization needs to be prepared to handle a violent situation:
Los Angeles, California
In February 2015, a city worker arriving late to work lost his cool and committed a tragic act of workplace violence. Having recently been scolded by his boss for repeatedly arriving late to work, the perpetrator opted to seek vengeance. He had access to an AK-47 assault rifle and used it to fatally attack both his boss and a colleague.
Providing feedback is necessary when you’re in a supervisory or managerial role, but it’s important to watch for early warning signs. In this case, after feedback was provided there was emotional escalation throughout the day. Additionally, the work environment was already tense due to long hours and a tragic accident suffered by another worker earlier in the week.
One of the most recent examples of workplace violence occurred during August 2015. Two years after he was let go by the station, a former on-air talent known as Bryce Williams approached two reporters at a scene with a firearm. He opened fire in the middle of a broadcast on a cameraman and a reporter, fatally wounding them both. Afterward, he took his own life.
Firing an employee is an emotional task. It’s incredibly rare that situations turn out to be as serious as the shooting in Moneta, but it’s still important to handle the situation as carefully as possible. If necessary, make sure security knows to keep an eye out for any fired individuals, even after a bit of time has passed.
Workplace violence concerns can’t be limited to your own employees. If you deal openly with the general public, you need a strong policy in place to protect employees and patrons from other patrons, as well.
Take an example from the incident that occurred at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, Ontario. A female nurse was brutally assaulted by a patient she was caring for, sustaining critical injuries. Witnesses claimed that the patient shoved the nurse, striking her in the head at least two or three times before he was subdued. Afterward, she was rushed to a nearby hospital.
Make sure that you’re training employees to watch for danger signs from people outside your own organization. Otherwise, your policies are ignoring a huge threat to their well-being.
Finally, it’s important to realize that no matter how strong your policies are, you can’t account for everything. In 2010, a well-liked employee from Hartford Distributors used a handgun to kill eight employees, leaving two others injured. By all internal accounts, he was good at his job and a hard worker. Even after being let go, nobody suspected he was capable of such an atrocity.
The unpredictability of such violence is a key reason that being prepared is so important. You never know when a potentially violent incident could occur, so your company must be prepared to respond quickly. The better you’re trained to prevent violence, the more effective you’ll be when violence unexpectedly occurs.
Can we assist you?
We have extensive experience in developing workplace violence programs, assessing and managing threats, and managing crisis situations. Our solutions have delivered strong results in this area, as can be seen in this recent case study of a project we undertook for a client to develop a workplace violence program.
If we can assist you in any way, please contact us today.