Workplace Violence: Awareness and Prevention
By: Alex Napier
July 25, 2017 – On the morning of June 5th, 2017 John Neumann Jr. made his way into the Fiamma Inc. factory from where he had been fired in April in Orlando, Florida and opened fire killing five of his former co-workers before taking his own life when law enforcement surrounded the building. Neumann’s neighbor had said he had been “disgruntled” and “stressed” about losing his job but had not guessed that Neumann would become violent due to his constant placing of blame on his firing on himself, and so never reported Neumann to authorities. The neighbor would go on to also reveal that he learned that Neumann had a gun a few weeks before the incident and that Neumann had revealed to him that he was broke and his rent was due the day of the shooting.
Violence in the workplace, especially violence that ends in the loss of life is never an easy subject to tackle, but as seen with John Neumann’s story it is a subject that, if covered correctly and thoroughly, can save lives. Proper awareness, regulations, and steps of prevention can protect employees across the country from injury or loss of life in dangerous workplace situations, both from within or from outside.
Workplace Violence: Awareness
What is it?
OSHA describes workplace violence as “any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site. It ranges from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and even homicide. It can affect and involve employees, clients, customers and visitors”.
As of 2015, workplace violence accounted for 15 percent of all fatal work-related injuries. Nearly 2 million Americans report cases of workplace violence every year. Unfortunately, many more of these cases go unreported. In 2015 alone there were 396,000 reported assaults, 51,000 reported rapes and sexual assaults, 84,000 robberies, and 1,000 reported homicides. While Homicides are the fourth leading cause of fatal work-related injuries (403/4,679 fatal injuries) they are actually more commonly committed by those outside of the company, with robberies accounting for 85% of workplace homicides.
Workplace Violence: Prevention
No company ever expects workplace violence but being prepared for the worst and establishing good procedures for identifying and preventing workplace violence can be a strong first line of defense for you and your co-workers.
Larry Porte, a former Secret Service agent and the former Manager of the Threat Response and Asset Protection Division of Kerby Bailey and Associates, says that workplace violence is a product of three main factors:
The violent individual
The stimulus that pushes the individual to see violence as a “way out”
A setting that permits, facilitates, or fails to intervene in, violence
Dr. Lynne McClure, a nationally-recognized expert in managing high-risk employee behaviors says there are eight categories of warning signs that signal the potential for workplace violence to occur and that these high-risk behaviors are everyday behaviors that occur in certain patterns and occur long before threats or actual workplace violence.
Actor behaviors: The employee acts out his or her anger with such actions as yelling, shouting, slamming doors, and so on.
Fragmentor behaviors: The employee takes no responsibility for his actions and sees no connection between what he does and the consequences or results of his actions. As an example, he blames others for his mistakes.
Me-First behaviors: The employee does what she wants, regardless of the negative effects on others. As an example, the employee takes a break during a last minute rush to get product to a customer, while all other employees are working hard.
Mixed-Messenger behaviors: The employee talks positively but behaves negatively. As an example, the employee acts in a passive-aggressive manner saying he is a team player, but refuses to share information.
Wooden-Stick behaviors: The employee is rigid, inflexible, and controlling. She won’t try new technology, wants to be in charge, or purposefully withholds information.
Escape-Artist behaviors: The employee deals with stress by lying and/or taking part in addictive behaviors such as drugs or gambling.
Shocker behaviors: The employee suddenly acts in ways that are out of character and/or inherently extreme. For instance, a usually reliable individual fails to show up or call in sick for work. A person exhibits a new attendance pattern.
Stranger behaviors: The employee is remote, has poor social skills, and becomes fixated on an idea and/or an individual.
By keeping a watchful eye out for dangerous or suspicious behavior in the workplace, and ensuring that the three main factors of potential workplace violence are not present employees can come together to ensure the safety of their workplace, and in the process save lives.
While having knowledge of the warning signs and components of workplace violence is important in helping prevent a violent incident, measures taken to improve the safety culture of the workplace can ensure that these dangerous behaviors never develop in the first place. That’s why IBTX partners with SolutionPoint+ to bring our customers further education on how to build their safety culture within their companies as part of our risk management mission.
Workplace Violence and SolutionPoint+
Who is SolutionPoint+?
Founded by Joseph Smarro and Jesse Trevino, SolutionPoint+ aims to help address complex social issues through training, advocacy, and consulting for law enforcement agencies, local mental health authorities, hospitals, private organizations, as well as city, state, and federal governments, while promoting synergy as the best way to deliver the solutions to these complex issues. SolutionPoint+ hopes to achieve their mission by offering a multitude of services:
Government public policy consulting
Workplace culture assessments
Policy risk assessments
Employee wellness and rehabilitation programs
Training for all first responders – Local, State, and Federal
Crisis Intervention Training
Training for private organizations
How to mitigate risk – on and off the job
Overcoming stigma associated with seeking treatment
Company policies regarding employee willingness to seek help
Develop peer support training
Work place violence
Training for hospital staff
Effective communication with behavioral patients in crisis
Communicating with law enforcement
Self-assessment for compassion fatigue
Training for attorneys / magistrates to aid in jail diversion efforts
How to assess pre-booking
Discuss treatment vs. incarceration – how to decide
Community mental health awareness training
Identifying locally available resources
Learning how to work with your local police department
To learn more, contact Jesse Trevino or Joe Smarro at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/workplaceviolence/ – OSHA article on Workplace Violence
- http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/disgruntled-ex-worker-kills-5-then-himself/ar-BBC2Dgc?li=BBnb4R7 – Article concerning the Fiamma shooting
- http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/orlando-workplace-shooting/os-orlando-workplace-shooting-20170605-story.html – Article concerning the Fiamma shooting
- http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/orlando-workplace-shooting/os-john-robert-neumann-shooting-suspect-20170605-story.html – Article concerning John Neumann and the Fiamma shooting
- https://www.thebalance.com/workplace-homicides-and-assaults-462811 – Article concerning violence in the workplace
- https://www.forbes.com/sites/samanthaettus/2015/08/27/6-ways-to-keep-your-workplace-safer/#5fe4d54a2331 – Article concerning how to keep the workplace a safe place for all
- https://www.thebalance.com/workplace-violence-violence-can-happen-here-1918316 – Article concerning workplace violence