Workplace Violence is more of a concern with companies than Terrorism

We’ve said it here before – violence in the workplace – often resulting in death, is one of the main concerns facing U.S. businesses every year.

While terrorism is something that is never too far from our minds these days, most companies are far more likely to experience a workplace violence incident than a terrorist attack.

This is further reinforced by an article in which a senior accounts manager for a defense and Security Solutions company states that W.P.V. concerns far outweigh and is more prevalent than threats of terrorism.

Another interesting point raised is that relating to background checks. While the majority of companies do conduct background checks (around 65%, which means that many still do not), less than 5% conduct any periodic check once the employee has been hired.

If no further checking is hardly ever carried out, that means that 95% of companies are leaving it up to the employee to tell them when they have been arrested or served with a restraining order. I am hoping that when business owners see this in print, they will realize how bad that sounds.

How many spouses/significant others could be expected to come into work on Monday morning and inform the HR Dept., that they spent the weekend in jail for beating their mate? Or that they have been charged with possessing narcotics with the intent to distribute?

About 2 years ago we were called in by a Govt. contractor to prevent workplace violence from occurring when they fired an employee who had been charged by the Police for operating a Meth Lab on his off-hours. Thankfully a corporate investigator discovered the case and when they checked into the employee more fully, also discovered that he had been stealing company supplies and selling them on E-Bay.

It’s wise to think about terrorism, but don’t forget to look for problems that may be lurking right under your nose.

Many employees will be terminated in ’09

We all know the economy is bad, but it really sinks home when you hear those big numbers.

I was watching CNN yesterday and was quite surprised to learn that 25% of all U.S. employers are planning to lay-off employees in the New Year. That is a lot of workers who will be out of work in the coming months.

Companies like American Express are not even waiting until the New Year. They announced today that they are laying-off 7,000 employees – 10% of their workforce. Executive Protection companies like ours will be in high demand in the coming months (and maybe years)due to fears of workplace violence. We are already planning on adding additional training classes just to meet demands from clients for corporate bodyguards to protect their managers.

Our E.P. training class in Los Angeles next month will go into workplace violence in greater detail than ever before. Fortunately, not everyone will react violently to getting laid off. For those who will need to find a new job or even change careers, Rachel Zupek from has written a very useful article on how carefully planned networking can increase your chances of finding that next position.

Shoppers advised about deadly mall attacks

In a joint effort between U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security and Mall retail associations, mall employees and shoppers are being advised on how to protect themselves against assailants armed with guns.

It is a sad reflection of the society in which we live, but statistics show that there is a real need for such training. Between 2004 and 2008, there have been 17 shooting incidents in U.S. malls. The shootings have resulted in 34 deaths and 33 injuries.

The issued guidelines warn that the shootings are often committed by current and former retail employees with grievances against their employers (workplace violence) or are related to an associate with domestic problems (domestic violence).

We continue to advocate for better training for mall security officers. Unfortunately, many times employers have to face huge lawsuits before they are willing to spend money on any additional security training. The ironic part is that had they done the right thing to begin with, in many cases they could have saved tens of millions of dollars in those same lawsuits and not suffered reputation damage and loss.

You may not even know it, but a Bodyguard may be protecting your colleague as you work.

I just came across an excellent workplace violence article written by reporter, Andrea James.

The article raises many points that I am sure many of us have or would overlook if it was not brought to our attention. The director of New Beginnings, a Seattle based non-profit that provides advocacy and shelter for victims made the point that while going home after a hard day’s work is something that many employees look forward to, for victims of domestic abuse, work is the only place that provides them safety and a sanctuary from a tortured home life.

Our company is frequently requested by employers to provide covert bodyguards for employees with domestic problems at home. The reason for this is due to the fact that physical violence at home, quite often spills into the workplace by the abuser and when that happens, the liklihood of the domestic partner and other co-workers getting hurt or even killed is very real.

Employers know that they have a responsibility to keep the workplace safe so they hire companies like ours to have trained personal protection specialists blend in at the place of empoyment and watch out for the identified threat. Just about 100% of the time the victim of the abuse is a female employee but this article and the comments that follow show that males also suffer from domestic violence.

It is the opinion of our company that we will see even more workplace violence, domestic and otherwise, as companies continue to practice cost cutting tactics like downsizing and layoffs due to the worsening economy. Other related predictions would be thefts from the workplace, increase in fraud and embezzlement, an increase in Resume/CV fabrications as more and more people compete for fewer jobs.

This all goes to show that employers have to be more astute and procative in making sound hiring decisions, being alert for internal theft and abuse and being proactive when it comes to workplace violence.

Work-place violence kills many U.S. workers every year.

Our company is hired regularly to make sure that fired employees do not come back to work and kill a supervisor or fellow colleagues.

When people hear that Corporations hire bodyguards to work in their Corporations pending and following company terminations they are surprised. This surprises me. Every year, workplace violence makes the “top ten” list of serious concerns facing U.S. businesses.

Yesterday, on WTOP radio station I heard the phrase; “Desk Rage” for the first time. Unfortunately it is very appropriate. Some people have very bad tempers and an argument or decision at work can lead to them getting a weapon and committing homicide. This was evidenced a couple of weeks ago in Kentucky when five factory workers were killed by an employee who had been slightly reprimanded.

Employers do have a responsibility to ensure a safe work place environment. That is the reason companies hire us. If we are called in and are onsite when a violent worker returns intent on hurting people, we will be the ones to stop him or her from committing the act.

Fellow workers should report incidents involving any type of inappropriate behavior, especially instances where people are likely to get hurt, or worse. Very rarely does an employee just go ballistic or “postal” for no reason. The most common cause of work place homicides are domestic situations. An employee with a dangerous spouse/significant other who has just been arrested on domestic violence charges or has been served with a protective should be brought to a supervisor’s attention immediately.

With so much rage in schools, on the road and in the home, the Police have their hands full just reacting to situations where many times the SWAT team will be called in. Private security companies are a great resource to the business community as Police do not have the resources to sit for days and wait to see if something will happen.

Be part of the solution. Report all potentially dangerous situations in the workplace to a supervisor.

How to protect your company and employees from workplace violence

Q: We have an employee who has made a series of threats to co-workers. He boasts about having a gun. We are considering terminating his employment. What should we do?

A: Employers have a duty to provide a safe workplace for their employees. While you seem to have reasonable grounds to suspend or terminate this person, you must at the same time ensure that nobody is harmed if he becomes violent. Workplace violence is a serious concern for companies of all sizes. Workplace violence is defined as: any conduct in the workplace which causes an individual to fear for their personal safety, the safety of their co-workers, family, friends and/or property.

According to the Dept. of Justice, 516 cases of homicide occurred in the workplace in 2006. However, the number of assaults, not resulting in death, amounted to 1,700,000 during the same period. This extremely high number, 1.7 million, highlights the prevalence of employees being victims of workplace violence. Many employers realize the importance of having a security presence in place before terminating someone who may have even the slightest chance of reacting violently.

It is extremely important to choose a security company whose personal protection specialists have proven experience in this area. A professional security firm will provide experienced agents who will be able to blend into the surroundings without alerting anyone to their real purpose. If they are to be armed, they will be carrying concealed weapons that will not be noticed by anyone at the place of employment.

In many instances, the person being terminated may focus on one person such as a HR manager and hold them responsible. In these days of easy access to personal information, it may be necessary to have a personal protection specialist placed at the manager’s residence for a few days. We have handled cases where we have had to place four or five agents at several managers’ residences on a 24 hour basis for several days.

When it comes to hiring personal protection specialists in order to safeguard one’s employees against workplace violence, the rule of thumb is to hire them from three to four days. This period is commonly known as the “cooling off” period. If a terminated employee is feeling resentful and angry, it is very likely that these feelings can worsen as they “stew” over their misfortune. They can make the situation even worse if they abuse drugs and/or alcohol.

Employers/HR Managers should keep in mind that the three – four day “cooling off’ period is a guideline, NOT a rule. We have worked many serious cases where our agents were required to remain at the workplace and/or “shadow” a threatened manager for several weeks. Each case should be carefully examined by the company and security consultant working in close harmony. A proper threat assessment needs to be conducted on a case by case basis.

The following are important points to consider:
• Most incidents of workplace violence start as a small confrontation.
• If left unchecked, minor conflicts will likely escalate
• Conflicts often lead to threats
• Threats need to be taken very seriously as Violence includes threats

When companies declare that they have a zero tolerance policy toward work place violence, they must mean this and not just pay “lip service” to it. The policy needs to apply to all employees, regardless of rank, status or seniority. Reported incidents need to be investigated and followed-up immediately. If the firm is not equipped to conduct an in-house investigation, it should be immediately outsourced.

If an employee is suspected of having committed a work place violence incident or to have engaged in conduct that caused an individual to fear for their personal safety, or the safety of their co-workers, depending upon the results of the preliminary finding, that employee may have to be placed on administrative leave pending a full investigation.