Today, as we write this post about workplace violence, there is a breaking story about a Texas college campus in lock down, with reports that a shooter is dead. It appears that this incident was short-lived and that no students or faculty were harmed. It is chilling, nonetheless, in the wake of two recent workplace shootings: at Manchester, Connecticut’s Hartford Distributors, which killed nine and wounded several others; and at Albuquerque, New Mexico’s solar manufacturing plant, Emcore Corp., which killed 2 employees and wounded several others. The CT rampage occurred after an employee had been fired; the New Mexico shootings were an instance of domestic violence being brought to the workplace.
According to the Department of Labor, there were 5,071 workplace fatalities in 2008, the last year of recorded statistics. Of those, just over 10%, or 517 were homicides. James Alan Fox, a Professor of Criminology, Law, and Public Policy at Northeastern University, sheds light on these numbers in his post about the risk of workplace homicide at Boston.com:
“The vast majority of the incidents involve robberies — taxicab holdups, convenience store stickups and assaults upon police and security officers. Many others stem from domestic disputes that spill over into the office suite. The least common form of workplace homicide, claiming fewer than 100 victims per year, are the murderous acts of disgruntled employees and ex-employees seeking revenge over work-related issues. The term “epidemic,” which has been used to describe the problem of workplace violence and murder, is more hyperbole than reality.”
Fox notes – and we do too – that the purpose in dissecting these numbers is not to trivialize the horror of these events, but to offer some perspective about the level of risk. The effect that these shootings have – on the organizations and communities involved, on human resource professionals and managers, and on our national psyche – are another matter entirely.
As an EAP, we’ve dealt with various aspects of workplace violence. We’ve worked with employers to help diffuse potentially explosive or problematic situations, to craft zero-tolerance violence policies, and to train employers and managers in workplace violence prevention. And more times than we would like to recall or recount, we are called on scene to help organizations and their employees cope with the tragic aftermath of workplace violence.
Over our next few posts, we’ll be focusing on workplace violence: what is it, advice from experts on what organizations can do to minimize risk; and ways that organizations and employees can work to recover in the aftermath of violence at the workplace.
In today’s post, we offer a selection of resources and links on workplace violence:
- OSHA – Workplace Violence – Statistics, risk factors, administrative controls, recommendations and training resources from OSHA.
- Preventing Workplace Violence – A comprehensive guide and prevention program from the AFL-CIO
- Centers for Disease Control – Occupational Violence – resources from the centers for Disease Control and The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
- Active Shooter: How to respond – This pamphlet from the Department of Homeland Security provides guidance to individuals, including managers and employees, who may be caught in an active shooter situation, and discusses how to react when law enforcement responds.
- Ready.gov for Business – Ready Business helps owners and managers of small- and medium-sized businesses prepare their employees, operations and assets in the event of an emergency. It is a cooperative initiative between the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Advertising Council and various business organizations.
- Violence in the Workplace – the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety offers guidance and tools for preventing workplace violence.
- Workplace Bullying Institute – the Institute’s stated goal is “To raise awareness of, and create a public dialogue about Workplace Bullying. To apply research, empirical and anecdotal, to solutions for individuals, unions, employers and public policy makers.”
Domestic violence and the workplace
- National Domestic Violence Hotline – operating 24 hours a day 7 days a week in 170 languages connecting people in crisis to more than 5,000 sources of help in local communities across the US, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.
- Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence – a national nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing the costs and consequences of partner violence at work – and eliminating it altogether. From policies and programs to legal issues and legislation, CAEPV is a credible source for information, materials and advice.
- Domestic Violence in the Workplace – a blog about domestic violence & its impact on the workplace as well as related topics.
- Click to Empower Domestic Violence Survivors by The Allstate Foundation – The Allstate Foundation created the Economics Against Abuse program in partnership with the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) to spread awareness of domestic and economic abuse and empower survivors to lead financially independent lives. You can help by encouraging women and men to talk openly about domestic violence.
- Sloan Work & Family Research Network – Domestic Violence and the Workplace – an overview of how domestic violence affects workers, offers strategies that employers can implement to address domestic violence among their workers, and explains how policies can mitigate the negative effects that domestic violence has on the workplace.