two hours after they’d clocked in, he saw
the perpetrator begin shooting at people
in the factory’s parking lot.
Reducing workplace violence
As a former human resources director,
my responsibilities included serving as a
member of the company’s safety committee. Back then when the topic of workplace violence came up, our greatest concern focused on issues like the occasional
shoving match and heated arguments
between co-workers. We never imagined
that shootings would be an issue.
However, workplace violence cannot
be taken lightly. Outdated notions of “it
can’t happen here,” must be disregarded.
Employee safety should be a top priority for every organization. The following
three tips can help minimize some of the
risk from workplace violence.
1 Encourage employees to speak up Employees concerned about the conduct of others in the workplace should be
told to listen to their internal voice rather
than disregard it.
Some employees believe that by ignoring someone’s inappropriate words or
conduct, it will dissipate or disappear.
Sometimes it does. Other times, unfortunately, it escalates.
Employees should be advised to report
safety concerns to a human resources
officer, supervisor or other appropriate party. Organizational leaders should
never look the other way if they observe
or become aware of inappropriate workplace behaviors. If there is an immediate
threat or concern for safety, law enforcement should be contacted.
2 Safety committee’s role Workplace violence and its pre- vention should be placed on the
safety committee’s meeting agenda. It
should be studied, addressed and discussed at least as frequently as things such
as occupational accidents and injuries.
The safety committee must be empow-
ered to do its job effectively. For example,
there should be a mechanism in place
to ensure that when employees exercise
internal human resource grievance pro-
cedures to report conduct that includes
In the six-month period from August 2015 through February 2016, three pisodes of deadly workplace violence occurred on the East Coast, the West
Coast and in America’s heartland.
August 2015: Two people were killed
and one seriously injured in Virginia,
when a disgruntled ex-employee shot
two former colleagues on live television:
24-year-old Alison Parker, a WDBJ-
TV7 news reporter, and Adam Ward, a
Ward was filming Parker as she inter-
viewed chamber of commerce executive
Vicki Gardner, who was seriously injured
but survived probably because the killer’s
Glock ran out of bullets.
December 2015: In California, a coun-
ty health inspector and his wife burst into
a rented banquet room where approxi-
mately 80 of his colleagues were attend-
ing a holiday party. Fourteen people were
killed and 22 were injured. The killers
conducted a mass shooting and an at-
tempted bombing during the attack.
February 2016: In Kansas, a painter
shot and killed three people and injured
14 more at the lawn care equipment manufacturing company where he worked. A
co-worker reported that approximately
Three Keys to
By Kathleen Bonczyk, Esq.