Various types of workplace violence, including active shooters, have been on the rise in recent years and many end in fatalities. What have you done to prevent acts of workplace violence in your organization? Do you identify risks for violence on a regular basis? Do you have a policy for employees to report concerns about specific employees? Once you read this week's articles, you might want to look again at what you're doing and see where you might improve.
According to the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, nearly 2 million workers count themselves as victims of workplace violence each year, with 403 Americans murdered at work in 2014 alone.
Employers can take steps to reduce the risk of violence and educate workers.
employers need to be extra-sensitive in handling certain employment decisions (like announcing layoffs, wage reductions or making changes to health care coverage) during an economic downturn.
An increase in workplace violence requires a proactive approach to reduce the risk.
Last year's shooting of two journalists by a former co-worker on live TV in Virginia is a stark reminder that a worker may become violent.
Workplace Violence Specialists will advise you that there are important steps organizations can take to improve their ability to predict workplace violence, but, in the end, you are faced with mitigating as many of the risks that you can identify and hoping you have done enough.
As always, I look forward to hearing about your concerns with regard to business continuity. If there are any topics that you'd like to see covered, email me at
Bob Mellinger, President
1. When Terror Clocks in to Work
The facts that the recent terror strike in San Bernardino, Calif., occurred at a work-sponsored holiday party and that the victims were murdered or injured by a coworker will undoubtedly give employers and human resources professionals pause. But the problem of workplace violence is not a new one.
2. Workplace violence prevention
Workplace violence is an issue that safety professionals need to acknowledge and address. Although some organizations such as health care facilities and late-night retail establishments face increased risks for violence, the potential for a violent incident exists across organizations of all sizes, in all industries and in all geographic locations.
3. How to prevent workplace violence during an economic downturn
In times of economic uncertainty, it's easy for business owners and executives to focus solely on business performance. But employers shouldn't forget that a slow economy has just as much of an impact on their workforce as it does on their business. Even a slight dip can cause strain and emotional distress that can lead otherwise stable people to react unpredictably or irrationally to bad news and even become violent.
4. Three keys to reducing workplace violence risks
In the six-month period from August 2015 through February 2016, three episodes of deadly workplace violence occurred on the East Coast, the West Coast and in America's heartland. Workplace violence cannot be taken lightly. Outdated notions of "it can't happen here," must be disregarded. Employee safety should be a top priority for every organization. The following three tips can help minimize some of the risk from workplace violence.
5. Reminder of Challenges Associated with Workplace Violence Prevention
Violent incidents at work resulting in death or serious injury to employees have risen dramatically. Two million American workers a year report having been victims of workplace violence, with one out of every six fatal workplace injuries occurring as a result of workplace violence. Moreover, active shooter incidents have occurred more frequently in recent years - from 2000 to 2006, such incidents averaged 6.4 annually; from 2007 to 2013, such incidents jumped to an average of 16.4 a year.
6. The Financial Impact of Workplace Violence
The actual cost of workplace violence is very tough to pinpoint because, in most instances, appropriate financial data specific to workplace violence in a given organization is generally not kept. Thus, it is very hard to be able to clearly track the cost. In addition, multiple variables are involved, and probably the most difficult issue is that companies are reluctant to expose imperfections in their operations, safety procedures, employee practices, etc. Most firms want to put a spin on the events to minimize the negative publicity and impact on the business. So the costs are buried in the shuffle to get the event behind them and present the aura of 'all is well' and business as usual to avoid spooking their customers and shareholders.
Quote of the Week:
"Thou shalt not be a victim, thou shalt not be a perpetrator, but, above all, thou shalt not be a bystander."
-- Yehuda Bauer, author