Workplace Violence When Coworkers Turn Deadly
Things You Can Do That Might Save Your Life
Previous articles have talked about situational awareness, and unfortunately, in today’s world you not only have to be aware of strangers you have to be aware of your co-workers and friends as well. You simply cannot trust anyone. Not paying attention can cost you your life.
Of course, this is not to say that anyone that has died because of so-called workplace violence caused it to happen, or even could have prevented it. This article is not so much about the victims though, as it is about how you can possibly prevent becoming one.
You cannot go through life saying “stuff happens” and you are hoping for the best and luck will be on your side. You have to make your own luck sometimes, and you can do that by being more pro-active about your own safety. Knowing what is going on around you is important. You have to evaluate your workplace and plan for situations just as you do at home as a Prepper. Disasters come in all shapes and sizes, and you never know when they may happen, but you have to be ready nonetheless.
It sounds like a Gunshot but that is Impossible Right?
Unbelievable as it may be, there are a number people that have only heard gunshots on television. They sound different in real life. If it sounds like a gunshot assume it is, and do not go to investigate. Only those trained and tasked to react should run toward the sound of gunfire, all others run the other way, or seek cover/conceal in place. If you have an office door that locks then lock it, and get below any glass openings.
Get under your desk or behind a file cabinet, do anything to prevent a shooter from seeing you as they peer in the window as they are stalking the hallways. You want cover and concealment. An active shooter in many cases after they have dealt with their initial target, if there was one, will be shooting at random, and if the shooter cannot see you, the shooter cannot target you. Stray shots can strike you however, so it is important you stay under cover.
The most recent workplace violence incident involved a knife. At first blush, it appears to be a very odd situation. One person is on the phone with the police seemingly giving them a blow-by-blow account (this is only the perception, the caller may not have been able to view the attack) of an attack by a man with a knife. A man is stabbing and eventually beheads the person he is attacking. Once done with the first victim he then begins to stab another. Finally, an executive with the company shoots the attacker wounding him and thus stopping the attack. The executive was also a reserve police officer.
Unfortunately, in most cases where there is an active shooter or someone attacking with some other type of weapon (s) there will be a first victim. However, once you know there is an incident you must react to save your life. People often times believe they know what they would do. However, the reality is usually vastly different.
If you get involved, you may be killed or injured. At first, it will take several seconds for you to comprehend what it is you are actually seeing. There are no previous references to call upon, because you have never seen anything like it before. Seconds are lost, and then you have to decide whether to flee or stand your ground. Do you intervene, run or stand there frozen in place so you can be attacked next.
Unfortunately, as stated earlier something has to happen before you can react. In most cases, when it comes to workplace violence there is not much that, you as an employee, can do to prevent it from happening in the first place. Human Resource Managers can screen potential employees better, but in today’s society asking someone if they have a criminal history can be perceived as a civil rights violation.
To prevent litigation and having the government breathing down your neck, the hiring standards in some companies has been relaxed to the point that you may not know that a co-worker is a convicted sex predator, a drug dealer or one that has previously been convicted for assaulting a police officer.
Police for example can only react after a crime is committed in most cases. The same with you, there has to be a victim first, but once there is a victim, you have to react quickly to prevent becoming one yourself.
If you work in a noisy environment where your ears cannot help, you have to use your eyes. Do not become so engrossed in your work that you do not know someone is standing behind you or is attacking someone 10 feet away. You have to practice situational awareness no matter where you are.
Every workplace is required to have an emergency exit plan. They are posted in various places, near the break room, time clock and so on. Have you ever looked at the emergency exit plan, do you actually know where all the emergency exits are, and how to get to one from your workstation or from the break room.
How will you get out of the building if there is an active shooter, or if someone drops a tear gas canister in the middle of the floor or any canisters that could contain deadly gas or chemicals? Take the time on your lunch break or when on any break and walk to one or two exits from your desk or workstation. Know what is along the way as far as cover and concealment, and know what is on the other side of the doors, so if you do have to escape you know what is available as far as cover and concealment outside the building.
Paying attention to the things around you can save your life. Just like at home certain objects or things, if you will become invisible overtime. You get so used to seeing them you no longer see them for what they are, or for what they could be. What certain things could be are hiding places, cover from flying rounds, or even a weapon.
Always think what if, what if I heard screams or gunshots as I eat my sandwich in the break room. What is around me that can be used, hot coffee in the pot, the pot itself, and any silverware for stabbing and slashing an attacker? Canned food can be a weapon, throw a can or use it to batter an attacker. The chair you are sitting on can be used, but you must have the wherewithal to use these items. Thwarting an attacker is as much mental as it is physical and having a plan of action will give you added confidence, it will give you the mental fortitude needed.