Danger at Work – How to Spot a Potentially Violent Coworker

Amanda Cupp

Workplace safety is and will always be a pressing concern. According to a study conducted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, we’re making a significant amount of progress in that regard – from a certain perspective. In the four decades that OSHA has been working with state partners, employers and safety and health professionals around the country, worker deaths have fallen from 38 per day on average in 1970 to just 13 a day in 2015. Equally positive is the fact that worker injuries and illnesses are also way down, from 10.9 incidents per 100 workers in 1972 to just 3.0 incidents per 100 employees in 2015.

But one of the unfortunate facts about the modern era that we’re now living in is that the types of dangers that people are likely to face have evolved in a harrowing and unsettling way. People don’t have to worry about falls, being struck by objects, electrocutions or being caught in or between pieces of equipment anymore. They don’t have to worry about safety hazards that were not properly communicated or guidelines that were not adhered to.

With increasing and disappointing regularity, they’ve got to worry more and more about their own co-workers.

Potentially Violent Co-Workers in the 21st Century

There’s a certain level of “stunned surprise” that is all too common when an act of workplace violence does occur. The people who were there—those who were directly affected—are often interviewed by local news outlets and express many of the same ideas: “This person seemed so nice… how could they do this? Sure, they got a little angry every now and again and they occasionally posted something provocative on social media, but there were absolutely no warning signs? How did we not see this coming?”

Unfortunately, there likely were warning signs—they’re just all too easy to overlook, especially in the overloaded information age in which we’re now living.

Based largely on this, workplace violence is something far more common than a lot of people even think it is. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 403 workplace homicides that occurred in the United States in 2014. Nearly two million people on average are the victim of workplace violence each year. This number is likely higher, as many of these incidents go unreported out of fear of retaliation or retribution.

It’s clear that something must be done about this type of danger at work and the time to take that action is today. That time is right now.

Workplace safety is something that absolutely could not be more important – particularly during the troubling times that we’re now living in. The clues that someone might be days away from turning a corner and causing real injury to others are certainly out there—organizational leadership needs to be able to cut through all the digital noise that exists and get to the heart of the matter as quickly as possible.


WATCH THE WEBINAR ON THIS TOPIC

Disaster Recovery Journal (DRJ) recently sat down with security expert, Cheryl Carmel, to discuss these ideas and more. This webinar offers tips for training staff to recognize pre-attack indicators, information about when it is time to take the next step and alert leadership to something suspicious and how to manage and mitigate violence in the unfortunate event that it occurs.

Click Here to Watch the Webinar