Workplace violence is on the increase - in the nation and right
here in St. Louis.
Just last week, an employee of an auto lubrication service at
Hanley Road and Page Avenue shot two people - his ex-girlfriend and
her brother - who went to his workplace to ask him to leave her
alone. The two victims remain in critical condition; the employee
is in jail.
A study made public earlier this month by the Bureau of Labor
Statistics says workplace homicides last year increased 33 percent
over the year before. Local incidents counted among the survey's
1,001 homicides last year included a double shooting in a Maryland
Heights plumbing company and a shooting at the St. Louis County
Courthouse, in which an estranged husband killed his wife and
wounded four others before a security guard shot him.
Next year's national report of 1993 fatalities will include a
pizza delivery man shot last July and a security guard at St. Louis
Housing Authority, shot in August.
Law-enforcement agencies do not keep statistics on nonfatal
assaults by particular location, so figures are hard to come by.
The FBI has begun a voluntary project to collect more data on
nonfatal violent crimes but lacks enough information to draw
But as Herb Rosenbaum, a neurologist and psychiatric researcher
at Washington University Medical School, put it: "More people carry
guns. They go to work, they get angry, and they shoot somebody."
Said Ed Stout, executive director of Aid for Victims of Crime
Inc., a nonprofit support and referral group: "Most people don't
normally think of their workplace as a dangerous place to be. It's
like your home. When something like a homicide or assault occurs,
even if you're not the person assaulted, all of a sudden, it's not
a safe place."
Next week, law-enforcement officers from across the country
will be in St. Louis for the International Association of Chiefs of
Police annual convention. Joseph A. Kinney will present a seminar
on workplace violence. Kinney, executive director of the
National Safe Workplace Institute, in Chicago, works with insurance
companies and large companies to prevent or reduce attacks.
"People are terrified," Kinney said. "They are sick of what's
going on, and they want some solutions."
Using insurance reports, Kinney's group separates violent
incidents on the job into four categories:
Robberies or other property crime.
Domestic disputes or ex-spouse conflicts.
Disgruntled employees or ex-employees.
Terrorism or hate crimes.
Attacks directed at bosses or supervisors is the category
rising the most, Kinney said.
Problems in the economy seem to have influenced the increase,
Kinney said, but they are not necessarily about money. More likely,
an employee turned violent is reacting to changes in the workplace
and the loss or threatened loss of his job. …