Sadly, reports of workplace violence, including shootings, are not uncommon in America. According to the most recent information available from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, shooting accounted for 85 percent of all workplace homicides in 2015. In 15 percent of those cases, a co-worker was responsible for the deaths.
One step companies can take to improve workplace safety is to educate employees about the signs of potentially violent behavior. Then, encourage employees to alert Human Resources if they have concerns about someone in the work environment. “See something, say something” could save lives and help a troubled employee obtain needed help before it is too late.
As part of its “Active Shooter: How to Respond” booklet, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security lists the following as some of the warning signs of potentially violent behavior:
- Increased use of alcohol and/or illegal drugs
- Unexplained increase in absenteeism; vague physical complaints
- Noticeable decrease in attention to appearance and hygiene
- Resistance and overreaction to changes in policy and procedures
- Repeated violations of company policies
- Increased severe mood swings
- Noticeably unstable, emotional responses
- Explosive outbursts of anger or rage without provocation
- Suicidal; comments about “putting things in order”
- Behavior which is suspect of paranoia, (“everybody is against me”)
- Increasingly talks of problems at home
- Escalation of domestic problems into the workplace; talk of severe financial problems
- Talk of previous incidents of violence
- Empathy with individuals committing violence
- Increase in unsolicited comments about firearms, other dangerous weapons and violent crimes
Avoiding an emergency is always the best course of action, but we live in an unpredictable world. Therefore, be sure your organization has an emergency action plan and that your workforce knows how to respond in an active shooter situation.
Hylant is committed to aiding our clients and communities in the area of workplace safety. Contact your local Hylant risk control expert if you would like to learn more about improving your emergency action plan.