How Safe Is Your Job? the Threat of Workplace Violence. (Psychology)
Miller, Laurence, USA TODAY
"Changes in the American workplace have created fertile ground for breeding discontent and potential violence."
A DISGRUNTLED [pick one: postal worker, law client, insurance claimant, store customer, hospital patient, factory worker] stormed into a place of business yesterday, killing six people before turning the gun on himself. Film at 11." You've heard this one before. Often, the lead story is followed by interviews with coworkers or associates whose comments almost invariably follow one of two main themes:
"He was always a little strange, you know, quiet. Kept to himself a lot, didn't get along with too many people, but came in, did his job, and never caused any real trouble. Certainly, nobody figured him for the violent type. Man, we didn't see this one coming." Or: "Damnit, I knew it was just a matter of time till something like this happened. This guy was bad news, a ticking bomb, and we all knew it. But there were no precautions or any real kind of discipline at all. We tried to tell management, but they just got annoyed, said there was nothing they could do, and told us not to stir up trouble. When he finally snapped, we were sitting ducks."
Most traumas I deal with in my clinical and forensic psychology practice strike suddenly and without warning or control. In those cases, the emphasis is on treating the victims, survivors, and their families after the fact. However, in virtually no other high-risk area is education, training, planning, and prevention so vital as in the case of workplace violence. In many cases, you can see this one coming and you can do something about it.
The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health reports that homicide is the second-leading cause of death in the workplace. Murder is the number-one workplace killer of women and the third-leading cause of death for men, after motor vehicle accidents and machine-related fatalities. The majority of workplace homicides are committed by firearms. For every actual killing, there are anywhere from 10 to 100 sublethal acts of violence committed at work.
According to Michael Mantell and Steve Albrecht in Ticking Bombs: Defusing Violence in the Workplace, the cost of workplace violence for American businesses runs more than $4,000,000,000 annually, including lost work time, employee medical benefits, and legal expenses. Additional costs of workplace violence include replacing lost employees and retraining new ones, decreased productivity, higher insurance premiums, raised security costs, bad publicity, lost business, and expensive litigation.
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: How Safe Is Your Job? the Threat of Workplace Violence. (Psychology). Contributors: Miller, Laurence - Author. Magazine title: USA TODAY. Volume: 130. Issue: 2682 Publication date: March 2002. Page number: 52+. © 2009 Society for the Advancement of Education. COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group.
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