Workplace violence is a major concern that every employer needs to be prepared for. While the best way to deal with violent situations is not to have them, there are a few occasions where a current or former employee makes an incredibly poor decision that needs to be addressed. Recently a man who was fired from his trucking firm in Texas returned to the company and fatally shot a coworker before taking his own life. Stories of workplace violence like these are more common place. Unfortunately family issues, work stress or even mental illness can push employees to a point of irrational behaviors that end in property damage, bodily harm or tragedy.

Any of these situations can lead to business interruption, employment lawsuits and workers’ compensation issues. Creating a culture of safety and managing a productive and healthy workforce is necessary to avoid these types of tragic situations from the beginning. OSHA is asking employers to go the extra step to deal with a problem that is becoming a common occurrence.

Workplace violence prevention strategies:

  • Identify employees with violent tendencies – In many cases, acts of violence build up over time. Oftentimes, it is only after an incident has escalated do the signs leading up to it become clear. Workplace violence incidents should be addressed immediately. Employees who have issues that causes them to lash out need to be coached or disciplined. If the underlying issues can be addressed, actions should be taken to alleviate future problems.
  • Identify supervisors that increase tension at work – Truck drivers in particular, have little opportunity to vent their frustration with difficult supervisors. They are out on the road and may have little contact with their peers during the workday to ask for advice or learn if others are being treated in a similar manner. Additionally, spending time on the CB and listening to talk radio can add to an already confrontational situation. Supervisors/dispatchers that do not deal with other employees in a respectful and professional manner need to be educated on acceptable behavior and language. If they do not improve, additional steps need to be taken.
  • Add security measures – Employees and outsiders should not have easy access to areas where they do not have business. Administrative and supervisory functions should have controlled access points and gatekeepers should understand their role in protecting their coworkers. Doors to these areas should be locked at all times. It is best that meetings involving disciplinary issues be held in a neutral location within the facility that has easy access to exits. Surveillance systems should be utilized to identify intruders or distressed employees when possible.

Developing a crisis management and safety plan protects your business from a mass shooting event. There are many tools available to help create a process that mitigates these tragic issues.

HUB Transportation works with many clients on developing security plans for their facilities. Contact a HUB risk transportation advisor today.

Steven Bojan, Vice President -  Transportation Fleet Risk Services VP, advises on commercial truck insurance, fleet safety, driver and management best practices and regulatory compliance.