Preventing Workplace Violence: Early Identification and Intervention Go a Long Way

This article was originally featured on Campus Safety Magazine

As workplaces are emerging from pandemic restrictions and returning to near-normal operations, corporate security and human resources professionals are facing some complex challenges. Many studies have shown workplaces are facing an increased volume of threats, including threats from those internal or otherwise known to the organization (e.g., employees, vendors) and those external to the organization (e.g. anonymous social media threat to the CEO, domestic violence threat to an employee at work).

Second, high-profile acts of gun violence and mass casualty events across the U.S. have increased fears over workplace violence generally and across industries. For example, earlier this year, a man shot four co-workers at Columbia Machine, Inc., a manufacturing facility in Maryland. At a Tops supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y., 10 people were killed and three injured in a racist, hate-based shooting. Just four weeks later, five people were murdered at a Tulsa medical building.

Third, two years of pandemic conditions and all of the related stress, including financial, employment, health, and mental health-related stress, continue to impact at least some employees, including managers and C-suite personnel. Operating under prolonged stress, even when the source of stress starts to abate, can lead to hostile, threatening, and even violent behavior in the workplace. There are some industries that face an even greater risk of violence in the workplace. For example, the healthcare and social service industries experience the highest rates of injuries caused by workplace violence and are five times as likely to suffer a workplace violence injury than workers overall.

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Building a Workplace Threat Assessment Program

Dr. Marisa Randazzo, Ph.D.