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Violence in the Workplace is Taking its Toll

These past few days have been horrific across the U.S. The stunning tragedy at Fort Hood claiming the lives of 13 people along with many injured, and then today’s workplace shooting in Orlando. All that seems to come to mind is, what is wrong with people today and why is it that signs of danger get ignored until it is too late?

In Fort Hood, Texas on Nov. 5 at 1:30 p.m. suspected shooter Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, gunned down the very soldiers who he was there to help. 13 have died and 30 are seriously wounded. So what made this man crack to the point of violence and were there any signs that could have been an indication of what was to come?

It was reported by several individuals that Hasan was frequently expressing anger about his upcoming deployment. He was also involved in many office arguments about his disapproval of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. His final and most explosive outburst took the lives of his fellow soldiers and he now lies in a hospital bed breathing on a ventilator. Now don’t get me wrong, not foreseeing the future is nobody’s fault in this tragic situation. But being aware and alert to possible dangers is important to everyone. Unfortunately, it seems that our soldiers can’t even feel safe on their own base. It’s hard enough to have to become mentally prepared for the dangers of war without having to worry about your safety at home.

As if that wasn’t enough horror for one week, another shooting occured in Orlando, Florida at the office of Reynolds, Smith and Hills. This shooting left Otis Beckford, 26, dead and five others injured. This incident reportedly occured due to the anger of disgruntled former employee, Jason Rodriguez. Rodriguez is currently in police custody facing a charge of first-degree murder.

With two fatal episodes of workplace violence taking place within two days, one has to wonder – could anything have been done to prevent such tragedies? From 1992 to 2006, the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) found that 11,613 workplace homicides took place. Many have even indicated that this type of violence is expected to grow due to the stress of the economy and job market. Employers need to take the extra time to ensure their employees’ safety by taking extra security precautions as well as training efforts.

Here are some helpful tips on creating a safer work environment to avoid workplace violence:

- Do thorough background checks on employees.

Many employers currently do this, but some have become more lax due to financial reasons. If you find out that a potential employee has a violent past, it may be in everyone’s best interest if you pass.

- Provide proper training.

All employees should be administered not only training for the physical hazards of their jobs, but the emotional ones as well. There is a reason companies have a Human Resources department. Take advantage of all of the recommended HR training, such as Violence in the Workplace at www.safetyskills.com.

- Create an open-door policy and protocols for safety concerns.

Make sure that employees feel safe when coming to a supervisor about a possible safety issue. All discussions should be respected and stay confidential. Create a protocol for reporting a concern for violence and follow-up on the matter with discretion.

- Have a no tolerance policy.

Never condone or forgive a violent matter of any kind in your workplace. It doesn’t matter how minor the incident or if it was a joke gone awry. This needs to be embedded into the minds of your staff that your number one concern is their safety.

- Get security.

Get some type of security in your workplace. This can mean an actual security guard, a monitoring system or a personal keycode system that can be removed upon the termination of an employee. The harder it is for a disgruntled employee to get into the building, the less likely they will try.

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Comment by Robert Kenneth Robinson on November 13, 2009 at 1:10am
Dont get me started.....have a safe day.....
Comment by David Strait on November 12, 2009 at 12:23pm
Very relevant points, thanks. But Fort Hood was not an incident of Workplace Violence, it was a Terrorist Attack - also important, just requires a different article.

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