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Workplace Violence: A Grim Reminder

It is always tough to hear about senseless loss of life.  Recently on August 26, 2015, it seemed even more difficult to know that a murderer shot two former co-workers while they were at work, broadcasting live from a location near Roanoke, Virginia.  Will all the details have not yet been sorted out, it seems that the shooter was a disgruntled and deranged person.  It is a terrible incident but can be used to remind us about workplace violence.

Violence has been cited as one of the top causes of workplace fatalities in the U.S.  Under the General Duty Clause, employers are required to furnish to each of its employees a place of employment that is free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm.  Workplace violence is defined as an action (verbal, written, or physical aggression) which is intended to control or cause, or is capable of causing, death or serious bodily injury to oneself or others, or damage to property. Workplace violence includes abusive behavior toward authority, intimidating or harassing behavior, and threats.  OSHA has divided workplace violence into four categories:  criminal intent, customer/client/patients, co-worker, and personal.  To address the issue of workplace violence, management and employees can work together to develop a workplace violence prevention program in which the hazard of workplace violence is discussed, the risk is analyzed, and appropriate actions taken that are relevant to the particular workplace.  Actions to consider are additional security, avoiding solo-working employees handling cash, adding security personnel, or taking security measures to prevent unwelcomed entrance to offices and public places.  Training employees in how to recognize the hazard and what to do about are vital.

The early reports on the incident in Roanoke indicated that the television station manager took many specific actions when the shooter was fired from his job almost two years ago, including having security on site at the time and for several days following his release.  While it’s too early for more analysis, let’s encourage employees to have situational awareness and to raise their concerns about potential workplace management to their management.  Take time to discuss the role you can take with regard to workplace violence to make it difficult to get hurt at work?

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims’ families and co-workers. God bless them.

Deb Potter, PhD.

2 Responses to Workplace Violence: A Grim Reminder

  • John Higgins says:

    Deb – What a sad, unfortunate event. A very poingant reminder for us all about situational awareness. Along with yours, and I’m sure countless others, my thoughts and prayers go out to the families, friends, and loved ones involved.
    John Higgins

  • Ebenezer k Oladimeji says:

    Thank you for sharing this grim reminder of the possible consequences of workplace violence. Variously, unresolved issues and ineffective communication in addressing grievances may result in workplace violence. Paranoia, dementia, grief, fear, mental disorders, untamed anger, indiscipline, etc are other causes. we all need to be aware. May god grant the affected families the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss. my hearts goes out to them…
    Ebenezer K. Oladimeji

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