July 21, 2006 was a day just like any other. Elartrice “Marcell” Ingram reported to work at 8:00 a.m. as usual. His associate in the seafood department reported everything was fine with no evidence of trouble, but by the end of the day Elartrice had stabbed seven coworkers at the Cordova Schnucks in Memphis, TN. He was found guilty by reason of insanity and a little over a year later his doctors testify that he is ready to be released with family supervision. His victims still have concern that it has not been long enough and that he may snap again. Is this considered to be workplace violence?
In 2007 in Charlotte, North Carolina an employee who admitted to his family that he had been harassed by his associates became irritated when he was fired and returned to work and killed two of his coworkers. Do we consider this violence in the workplace?
Any day, any job, imagine you are sitting at your desk and you over hear two coworkers arguing. When they notice others observing they retreat and go back to their work with no resolution to the situation. Does this situation appear to be workplace violence?
There are things we believe we know about workplace violence but are only myths. Dennis Davis, president of the Help Center in Vista, California spoke about some of the myths in a SHRM’s Conference & Exposition in Las Vegas in June of 2007.
Random & Unpredictable Violence grows in cycles – there are signs
People can be pushed into anything Frustration is the root cause – nonviolent people will not harm you
Verbal threats are “Just Talk” People in control don’t make threats
Crazy people commit violent acts Only 5% of very disturbed are violent
As we look beyond the myths we find that the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health defined workplace violence in 1991 as:
any physical assault, threatening behavior or verbal abuse occurring
in the work setting. These violent acts include homicide, forcible sex
offenses, kidnapping, assault, robbery, menacing, reckless endangerment, harassment, disorderly conduct, berating language, physical or verbal
threats or vandalism of personal property.
Most incidents are not recorded so it is difficult to determine exactly how many there are, but when we look at who is vulnerable we find that over two million American workers experience violence in the workplace. It can happen to anyone, anywhere, and at anytime. Some of the areas that are at risk are high stress environments, places that involve the public, and places where money is handled. An analysis of where workplace violence occurs by the Labor Department revealed the statistics below.
Taxi Driving 23%
Tavern/Liquor Stores 19%
Convenience Stores 17%
Fast Food Restaurants 12%
Health Care Facilities 10%
Business Offices 6%
Government Offices 5%
Police Work 4%
Post Office 3%