I just read an article where a company in Chicago is shifting its focus from gun violence or active shooting to scanning for fevers. This article is concerning to me because it creates a vulnerability for hostility in the workplace. Many of us live with the thinking that “it could never happen to me.”
On February 26, 2012, I was at Smiley’s Flea market, which is south of Asheville, NC. I remember hearing the sound of gunshots around 7:00 in the morning. My head jerked up and towards the scene of an older man shaking uncontrollably on the cold, rocky ground. I found out later that the two men had been vendors at the Flea market and had been arguing over tool prices. I had heard this information from one of the long-time vendors who knew about these two men.
The older man later died from the gunshots. A jury sentenced the younger man to life in prison without parole. I did not get up on that freezing, windy day expecting to witness such a hostile and cruel event. It shook me to the core that anyone could shot another person—especially over the price of tools. The incident reminds me that life is not predictable, and every day, we may be walking by murderers, rapists, thieves, and the like.
I am approaching three decades of working in the Human Resources career field. I have seen plenty of angry employees, and it can be very unnerving. I offer the following to employers—treat your employees with respect. There are times when it’s necessary to remove an employee from a company because of work violations or disciplinary matters.
Fired employees can become very emotional and unpredictable– Human Resources may need someone watching their back when they have to fire an employee. If the fired employee is entitled to any work benefits, make sure they know about them and do it with dignity. Ensure that they do not have access to computers and other equipment. They may need to be escorted out of the company—always in a polite manner.
Unfortunately, shootings are not going away! An article from the Philadelphia Inquirer quotes, “According to data from the Philadelphia Police Department, in the four weeks ending March 22, almost all crime categories — including overall violent crime — saw large declines compared with the prior four weeks. An exception is shootings, which have risen 22%, to 106, in the last four weeks.”
Felix Nater, who has over 30 years of investigative, managerial and security experience as a United States Postal Inspector and Postal Police Officer, and eight years of specialized expertise in Workplace Violence Interdiction offers four tips of advice:
1. “Preventing the workplace spillover threat by an active shooter starts by taking a proactive organizational approach sensitive to issues that when left unresolved contribute to the transition from the disgruntled employee/former employee to an active shooter.”
2. “Likewise, victims of intimate partner violence can be encouraged to inform management of such behavior to take proactive measures in protecting the workplace from the workplace spillover threat.”
3. “Security Directors might consider themselves Ambassadors willing to influence human resource – security policy, practices, and procedures to educate situational awareness and the need for policies designed to be proactive in minimizing exposure to risks.”
4. “Security Directors need to be familiar with the OSHA Regulation’s Duty to Warn Clause and the integration of the OSHA 4 Categories of Workplace Violence in helping to frame policy, plans, procedures, and training.”
Yes—the Covid-19 issue needs to be addressed, and people always need to be safe. Let’s make sure we are not dropping the ball on workplace safety. Employees have the right to work in a safe environment, according to OSHA. If you are an employee—ask your employer about ensuring you have a security plan for active shooters. If you are an employer—do your best to make the company safer. Hire a security consultant and get specialized training on how to reduce hostile work environments. Show you care about your employees and value their lives. They are the heartbeat of the company, and they deserve to work in an environment in which they can feel protected.
I believe in safe and civil work environments—check out more of my articles here: https://goodmenproject.com/author/consultwithdawngmail-com/.
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