Workplace violence describes behaviors that encompass a range of actions consisting of assault, harassment, intimidation, and threatening language. When an employee feels or interprets a hostile situation, there is a very high likelihood that it may be classified as violence (Jackson et al., 2019). According to the Center for Disease Control, approximately 1.7 million employees are injured each year due to workplace violence (www.cdc.gov., 2004).
Workplace violence is epidemic in the United States based on statistical information. This leaves little room for perceptions or fears. Due to immediate news coverage and worldwide immediate transmission of these events, some may say we have become desensitized to the horror of these situations. It might be an employee on employee incident, an intruder, or stranger from the company or not, that exercises violence. One of the most horrific situations that has become somewhat regular is that of gun violence in the workplace.
Gun Violence in the Workplace
In a 2018 study of emergency rooms across the country, it was reported that guns and knives were brought onto the hospital property and into the facility “on a daily if not weekly basis” (Kansagra et al., 2018). This is a workplace environment where the employees calling is arguably the highest among professionals, to save lives. The fact that weapons are brought onto the property illustrates that people have negative intentions towards those who are the best positioned and trained to assist patients in critical need. Emergency rooms and the staff that work there are under extraordinary pressures in relation to their jobs, the fact that social miscreants decide it is a good idea to select and bring a weapon with them is inhuman.
Society is charged to oversee, care for, create laws that enhance living conditions and propagate a wellness for the entirety, but yet still have to deal with animals that refuse to be civilized. This is not a malicious statement, purely a statement of us or them. he workplace violence that entails weaponry has lopsided results because of mental sickness, irrationality, revenge, spite, or depression.
“Strategies for addressing workplace violence are generally proactive, focused on prevention and preparation, or reactive, focused on response to an incident” (Kormanik 2011). Workplace violence involving weapons requires protection with weapons. These situations are extremely fluid, often with little reaction time to the threat. The first and most important solution is to have designated, trained personnel willing to receive a carry permit in states that it is allowed, for protection of staff. Soft targets are often the victims in the cross-hairs of these criminals. We see this from past crime scenes from schools, churches, mosques, hospitals, as well as places of business. We see trained personnel now as a common feature in schools and more recently, in churches. I personally know of three churches with elders that on rotation carry, during Sunday services. This first line of protection is economically feasible and effective.
A secondary approach to protect an establishment from gun violence is that of scanning devices for all personnel entering a facility. This requires the technology in the form of the detection devices as well as digital documentation and alarm systems that would advance warn employees of dangerous situations. Cost is the obvious hindrance for this solution. The two businesses I ran for the past 20 year could not afford the technology to scan entering personnel. We were a small company with younger employees and therefore it was decided that carry protections were inadvisable. We decided to build an entryway that stopped entrants and forced them to communicate through an intercom. Our business did not require customers to enter the premise, so we had a strict ‘no entry’ policy unless it was an employee. This extended to family and friends. Being in a small mid-western town, one would think that the odds would be unfavorable for such incidents, however, it only takes once, to be devastatingly wrong.
The final elements of protection are that of knowledge and presentation. Know what to do, when to do it, where to go, who to notify. Have emergency numbers available at every workstation of emergency service as well as management, day, or night. Prominently display outdoor surveillance cameras at all entry points along with alarm systems on doors and windows. Even though these systems are most often designed for night or closed hours of operation, they still provide information in the event of various situations, broken glass, forced entry etc. These early warning signs should never be taken as routine.
Workplace violence is serious. The consequences of not being prepared can be permanent and catastrophic. The approach to protecting a business, employees or gathering would never be taken lightly. Reservedness in action comes with experience and wise judgement, most often this is found in veterans, voluntary paramilitary, or elder personnel. The protection one has to prevent catastrophe, should not result in tragedy due to poor judgement or calculation.
Dermenchyan, Anna. “Addressing Workplace Violence.” Critical care nurse. 38.2 (2018): 81–82. Web. Judgement
Jackson, J.H., Mathis, R.L., Meglich, P.A., Valentine, S.R. (2019). Human Resource Management (16th ed.). Boston, MA:
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(2008), A Survey of Workplace Violence Across 65 U.S. Emergency Departments. Academic Emergency Medicine,
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Kormanik, M. B. (2011). Workplace Violence: Assessing Organizational Awareness and Planning Interventions. Advances
in Developing Human Resources, 13(1), 114–127. https://doi.org/10.1177/1523422311410658
Workplace Violence Prevention Strategies and Research Needs Report from the Conference Partnering in Workplace
Violence Prevention: Translating Research to Practice November 17–19, 2004, Baltimore, Maryland DEPARTMENT
OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Institute for Occupational
Safety and Health