Workplace Violence Prevention News

Workplace shooting leaves 5 dead

Friday, September 28, 2012

The founder and CEO of Accent Signage Systems was killed alongside his coworkers yesterday afternoon when an employee who was terminated earlier in the day returned with a firearm.   The alleged shooter appears to have then commented suicide.

The most common question we get after incidents like this is "how do you know...these are so random."  This is a myth that we are working hard to overcome.  In most incidents of workplace violence there are several clear warning signs or pre-incident indicators.  The most common issue we come across is unresolved grievances. We can only assume that he was having some type of disagreement with the company. The challenge has always been getting staff to recognizance the warning signs and then to bring them forward.

Another common theme that we see in incidents of workplace violence is significant change.  Changes in behavior, lifestyle, job status, financial stability, or mental capacity are all critical events to monitor when included with other inappropriate workplace behavior.    In this case, it's likely the significant change was the loss of the shooters job. Early reports indicate that the alleged shooter had very recent problems with law enforcement, so it's also likely that his personal life will be a final factor.

Clearly, most employees manage their grievances and change without resorting to acts of violence.  The goal of an effective violence prevention program is to identify and then address inappropriate behavior before an issue can escalate.  Organizations need to make sure their managers and supervisors have an understanding of the warning signs and know the methods to bring the concerns to the attention of Human Resources and/or Security.

SUMMARY:

The loss of any human life is tragic and our thoughts and prayers go out to the families involved. We are providing this information in the hope that you will pause and take a quick mental inventory of anybody in your sphere of influence that has displayed inappropriate behavior. The time to evaluate and assess situations that concern you is before an incident occurs.  You have to trust your intuition when evaluating the threat of violence and take appropriate action. Not doing so would be like waking up in the middle of the night, smelling smoke, and then going back to bed.

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