A horrifying incident unfolded on live television this morning when a reporter and her cameraman were shot and killed by a man reported to be a former colleague. The suspect is said to be a man who was fired from TV station WDBJ in Roanoke, Va. after "multiple angry outbursts."
The term "disgruntled employee" has entered the American vocabulary in connection with incidents involving postal workers but any workplace can be vulnerable to a volatile co-worker. We look at what businesses can and should do to look for and address the potential dangers of a disgruntled employee.
Joining us to talk workplace safety are Cynthia Langtiw, professor at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology and clinical psychologist who specializes in workplace issues and school violence; and Michael Brook, a clinical neuropsychologist and assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine.
Below are some tips for preventing violence, dealing with workplace violence and what to do in a hostage situation.
Tips for workplace violence prevention
- Be aware of events and what is going on around you at all times. Awareness is a proven method for increased personal safety.
- Inform your supervisor if you notice unusual or suspicious behavior.
- Do not hesitate to call the police for help.
Tips for what to do if violence occurs or there is an immediate threat of violence
- Leave the area immediately if possible. If this is not possible, try to lock yourself in a secure area.
- If possible, dial 911 and give the police as many details as possible.
Tips for what to do if you’re involved in a hostage situation
- If possible and safe to do so, dial 911 and supply as much information to the police as possible: number of persons involved; description of hostage takers; weapons displayed, and; threats made.
- Do what you are told by the hostage taker without argument.
- Do not attempt to negotiate or argue with the hostage taker.
- Try to get others to remain calm. Tell them to do what they are told.
In May, the Society for Human Resource Management interviewed Steve Albrecht, who’s a San Diego-based HR and security consultant, workplace violence prevention trainer and author, about when and how human resources should intervene in violent workplace situations.
In the video below, Albrecht discusses the “run-hide-flight” response to active shooters.
See Albrecht’s presentation, Safe Rooms: The Run – Hide – Flight Response to Active Shooters.