The security week that was: 03/12/10

A weekly surveillance of the news shaping your profession


Examining workplace violence

Ask someone outside the world of security what one of the biggest issues for corporate security is and they'll probably tell you it's things like stolen property, trespassing and break-ins. Sure, those things happen, and it's why vendors develop alarm systems, cameras that can detect "object removed," and perimeter security sensors. But I bet if you asked most corporate security directors today what their number one concern is, they'd say workplace violence, or at least put it very close to the top of the list.

Why is that? I have my theory, and it's partly based on the economy. In a really strong economy it's an employee's market. If they don't like the job they're in or if they are let go, it is a lot more likely that they could find a new job without much trouble. But with the national unemployment rate holding steady at 9.7 percent for February, the optimism of the worker turns to some nervousness and fear. Fear, of course, can lead to violence. And that's what we see day in and day out when we find instances of workplace violence.

It's all speculation on why the shooting occurred, but two financial advisers were shot in Dallas this week by a person said to have been a dissatisfied client. I have to ask, would the state worker who received a bad review at his job in Indiana last Friday have returned with a shotgun from his car if the economy offered many options for someone with his qualifications? It's speculative, and certainly would require a look at the psychology of each shooter, but I have my suspicions that it's more difficult for workers predisposed to violence to take a "live and let live" attitude when economic factors add other stress points to their lives.

For SecurityInfoWatch.com, this has been a week where we've been heavily focused on providing our readers workplace violence information. The centerpiece of these efforts has been SIW Assistant Editor Joel Griffin's interview of John Byrnes. Byrnes is president of the Center for Aggression Management, and he speaks about what he believes is a "culture of emerging aggression," and what prevention efforts must be made to counter that cultural emergence.

We also published a number of new stories on the topic. There were the following stories: the Dallas financial advisers who were shot; the government workplace shooting in Indiana; and a janitor who shot two supervisors at Ohio State. Sadly, those are just the ones notable enough to hit our radar in the last week. Undoubtedly, there are more that didn't quite warrant the national attention, but which were instances of workplace violence nonetheless.

To provide supplemental information on this topic of workplace violence, we have added information from the FBI and OSHA to our website. You can now use SecurityInfoWatch.com to download an OSHA factsheet on workplace violence (required reading) and an extensive report from the Federal Bureau of Investigation on workplace violence. That FBI report even covers workplace terrorism. Finally, we reported on an open carry movement and raised awareness of these rallies and the potential they could have to transition from peaceful demonstrations to potentially violent incidents. Of course, the demonstrators say that couldn't happen, but we'll stick with our assessment that any time you mix a Bill of Rights demonstration, protesters and handguns, there's potential for violence -- and it becomes a workplace violence issue when they hold their rallies at local businesses.

I'll close this segment on workplace violence by putting in a plug for a fellow Twitter user, Felix Nater (felixcanhelp), who often shares workplace violence updates on his Twitter feed.

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