Safety in the Workplace – Perpetrators of workplace shootings

Lost in the myriad of the news stories this weekend as we celebrated our independence was a spate of unfortunate incidents of murder-suicide in the workplace. On Friday, in Belton, Missouri, a Kansas City man shot and killed his estranged wife outside her place of employment then killed himself a short time later. On Sunday, in Killeen, TX, a soldier killed his wife inside a Dollar General store as customers looked on before killing himself. There were several other similar unfortunate incidents over the weekend that occurred inside homes and apartment complexes. As we see in the first two instances, there is little that can be done to control domestic problems from following an employee to work. The question becomes how do we protect and notify our employees and alert emergency services as quickly as possible? At SafeDefend Systems we think of this everyday and have the answer. The FBI recently released updated information (2014-2015) on active shooter incidents in the United States. Unfortunately, instances of violence in schools and the workplace are steadily increasing. Some of the startling information that needs to be pointed out applies specifically to the work environment. We know from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that 86% of workplace homicides occur in privately owned businesses. The media focuses on those stories that occur in a public entity where a grievance against government function is expressed. The reality is that the violence starts much closer to the people we know. From the FBI report we have learned that 95% of perpetrators of violence in businesses closed to the public are current or former employees. The other 5% is generally made up of those involved in a domestic relationship with an employee. These are considered your manufacturing, technology driven, or processing businesses with no direct customer interaction. Employees from these businesses have left behind information on a variety of reasons for undertaking a rampage. Notions of unfair discipline, termination, ridicule from coworkers, perceived mistreatment for promotion, failure to receive a raise, love triangles, and domestic discord to name a few have all been cited by perpetrators. Unlike school shootings, the suspect does not often drop clues to the plan and often act after some triggered event. There appears to be a growing trend to resolve problems with violence that is unforeseen in our country. What steps have you taken to thwart an intruder that knows your day to day business operations? In response to the increase in violence, companies have undertaken steps to reinforce the workplace against an intruder. Enhanced fencing, camera surveillance and controlled access doors are the norm for such an approach. Most of the shootings we have seen recently already have these in place. The Naval Shipyard shooting is a prime example of how all the money thrown toward security cannot prevent a determined employee from committing an atrocity. What is missing in each of these incidents is the ability to notify staff and building occupants of a threat. As we have seen in workplace shootings such as Excel Industries or Atlantis Plastics, for example, is that the shooting started outside and the perpetrator then entered the building to continue the rampage. Office staff were able to start the calls to 911 but there was no ability to notify employees inside the building. This lack of notification cost lives. We are able to go back and watch videos of employees going about their normal routine with no idea that the threat was literally walking up behind them. Employees deserve to feel safe and secure at work. Companies have an obligation to notify their personnel to a threat inside the building and provide accurate information on how to seek shelter and safety. If you don’t have a means to do this you aren’t protecting your staff.

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