Workplace Violence – Protecting Employees

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Tragic Shooting Leaves 2 dead, 2 wounded

Recent news of a tragic shooting event leaving 2 dead and two others wounded at the Valley Protein chicken processing plant in Fresno, CA, again raises the need to improve the ability of companies to train and prepare employees in like events.

Fresno sidebarAccording to the Fresno Bee:

A Fresno County mental health evaluation in 2004 diagnosed suspect Lawrence Nathaniel Jones with intermittent explosive disorder, drug-induced psychotic disorder, and dependence on multiple substances including amphetamine, marijuana and alcohol.

Jones was seen many times by jail psychiatric services staff, who described him as mentally unstable, the Fresno Bee reported.

“The majority of the contacts have been crisis-related,” wrote psychologist Adrian Della-Porta. “He has a history of acting out around his court dates. He has consistently refused medication offered to him.”

On Tuesday, in the middle of his morning shift at Valley Protein, the 42-year-old Jones pulled a gun and shot four co-workers, killing two, authorities said. Two others were wounded.

Suspect JonesAuthorities said he walked methodically up to his victims, shooting them execution-style.

Some workers told police Jones did not appear to be himself when he arrived for his shift.

“We are still trying to follow up on some rumors regarding a dispute between Jones and one of the other co-workers, but we have not been able to verify it at this point,” said Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer.

Firestorm’s Suzy Loughlin on Cultural Change

Whether workplace violence stems from a current or former employee, an unknown assailant, or an employee’s spouse, many incidents are foreseeable and/or preventable. However, management is often untrained and ill-equipped to recognize a developing situation and therefore unable to take appropriate action.

Although workplace violence can often be unforeseen, it may often be the ultimate outcome of continued issues involving employees and/or management. Either way, there are steps to take to prevent workplace violence and to protect employees. Having a system to report workplace violence threats, or tell-tale signs of such is one way that organizations can intervene before a situation culminates into full violent incident.

Eliminating violence in the workplace before it happens should be a top priority for every executive, manager and team leader. 

Organizations should establish a workplace violence program as part of their overall Business Continuity Programs.
Preventing violence calls for more than a routine or standard approach. Organizations and working conditions will vary from one company to another, as will the risks and challenges to employee safety.  Not all organizations will have the same resources, and not all management teams will have the same knowledge and experience on violence issues. That being said every organization should have general principles to guide your organization toward a successful approach to workplace violence prevention.

A comprehensive Workplace Violence Prevention Program requires a cultural change, not just the incorporation of the latest security technology.

What can you do today?

We have made available a variety of research, approaches to plans, toolkits and best practice guidelines. Start the change in your company’s Culture of Preparedness here:

Understanding Workplace Violence – a Whitepaper

Workplace Violence Self Assessment

Firestorm Workplace Violence ToolKit

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