Ghosts, goblins, and ghoulish creatures that lurk in the night. It must be time for Halloween. And while those dark, creepy shadows and images might give you nightmares, violence in the workplace is a scary thing that can keep you up…all year round.
Violence in the workplace is a frightening topic. No one should feel unsafe when going to their place of employment. But the unfortunate fact of the matter is that over 2 million people per year become victims of workplace violence…
What exactly is workplace violence? Workplace violence includes any threatening or disruptive behavior such as harassment, intimidation, or any kind of threat. It can range in severity from menacing behavior to actual physical assaults or even homicide.
You can protect yourself by being vigilant while at your place of employment. Be aware of your co-workers and their behavior. There are some specific warning signs of impending workplace violence that have been identified, and you should keep these in mind if you see a coworker exhibiting any of these behaviors.
1. Co-workers Behaving Badly
This is not to say you should panic if a co-worker appears to be acting a little differently one day. Remember, everyone has things that they have to deal with in their personal lives, and it stands to reason that personal issues might have an impact on an individual’s demeanor in the workplace. Not every bad mood is a cause for alarm.
However, if you notice a coworker that is displaying unusual behavior lasts more than a few days, then it might be a good idea to make someone in a supervisory capacity aware of what you are noticing. Also, there are instances where a personal event, like the death of loved one or divorce can actually trigger an episode of workplace violence in a person that might not otherwise act in that manner.
2. Visible Violence
Chatting on break or at the water cooler oftentimes allows people to relax and casually express their feeling and opinions. While this is a great outlet for blowing off steam during the course of the work day, you should be aware of anyone who is expressing overtly violent opinions, or who seems obsessed with ideas of violence.
3. Vindictive Thought Patterns
Much the same as violent opinions and thoughts, it is always a good idea to be aware of any co-worker who seems to be preoccupied with ideas of revenge and vindication. Again, everyone says things in a heated moment of anger that do not always need to be taken too seriously. However, it is when these opinions and patterns of thinking become repetitive that there should be cause for concern.
For instance, if someone at work is constantly referencing someone specific “getting what’s coming to them someday”. That is definitely an issue that needs to be addressed before it becomes a bigger one.
4. Signs of Anger
Some people inherently have a shorter fuse than others, or are even “control freaks” by nature. But there is a world of difference between normal daily frustrations, and deep-seated rage. There is also a great deal of difference between being someone who is a bit of a control freak or a little obsessed with perfection or the minutia of things, and someone who is truly a controlling person.
Learning to differentiate between these character traits, and paying attention to the conduct of those around you while at work, can make a difference when it comes to issues of workplace violence.
5. Recent Termination or Layoffs
Any of the other warning signs combined with a recent firing or layoff can be the perfect set of circumstances for workplace violence. Often, people are looking for someone to blame for their life’s troubles, and a recent termination or layoff can trigger a violent or manic episode.
If you know of someone who was recently fired or laid off who also displayed some other warning signs of workplace violence, it is best to let someone in charge know as soon as possible.
All of this certainly isn’t to say that you need to be concerned about a singular incident where a co-worker seems angrier than usual, or makes an off-handed remark. We do all have bad days. The bottom line is about patterns of behavior, and drastic changes in someone’s normal day to day conduct.
Going to work every day is hard enough. Don’t let work keep you up at night with the thought of a possible violent outbreak.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
If you do witness any of patterns of behavior that fit these warning signs while at your worksite, discuss them immediately with a manager, supervisor, or human resources. And if you happen to find yourself the unfortunate victim of a situation of workplace violence, contact a FL personal injury attorney as soon as possible.