Today, more than ever, employers and Human Resources (HR) leaders have a responsibility to keep their staff safe from violence and active threats. Many times, an active threat comes without warning, but there are instances when someone’s behavior might indicate the potential for violence.
The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that nearly 2 million employees report being victims of workplace violence each year.Use the following information to help keep your employees safe from an active threat on the job.
Potential Active Threat IndicatorsTo prevent a violent act, you must be able to identify behaviors that signal a risk of violence. While there is no specific way to predict that a person will become violent, be alert to problematic behaviors that, in combination, could indicate the potential for violence. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the following are indicators of potential violent behavior:
- Direct or veiled threats of harm
- Intimidation, harassment, bullying or other inappropriate and aggressive behavior
- Many conflicts with supervisors and other employees
- Bringing a weapon to the workplace, making inappropriate references to guns or developing a fascination with weapons
- Showing a fascination with incidents of workplace violence, making statements in support of using violence to resolve problems or identifying with perpetrators of workplace homicides
- Statements indicating desperation (over family, financial and other personal problems) to the point of contemplating suicide
- Drug/alcohol abuse
- Extreme changes in behavior
Each of these behaviors is a sign that something is wrong. None should be ignored.
Threatening BehaviorOften, a violent act is preceded by a direct threat, such as “I am going to kill you." In other instances, threatening behavior (without a direct threat) could suggest the potential for violence. Threatening behavior could be:
- Intimidating or harassing remarks that don’t contain a threat but can make a work environment hostile.
- Intimidating, harassing or aggressive behavior that creates fear.
- Irrational or inappropriate behavior (e.g., name-calling, using obscene language).