Mass shooting Wednesday aIt was just the latest example of a workplace firing by an employee.
But while many companies provide active shooter training, experts say there is little on how to prevent workplace violence, particularly how to identify and address troubling behavior among employees. Attention is given.
According to workplace safety and human resource experts, workers often don’t know how to recognize the warning signs, and more importantly, don’t know how to report suspicious behavior or feel empowered to do so. go
“We’ve built an industry about locking up the bad guys. We’ve invested heavily in physical security measures like metal detectors, cameras and armed security guards,” said James Densley, Metropolitan State University in DePaul, Minnesota. I am a criminal justice professor. Co-founder of The Violence Project, a non-profit and non-partisan research group. But in most workplace shootings, he said, “it’s someone who already has access to the building.”
The Walmart shooting in particular raised questions about whether employees felt empowered to speak out because it was a team leader who did the shooting.
Walmart identified the gunman as Andre Bing, 31, who had worked for Walmart since 2010 and whose most recent position was “night team lead” at the Chesapeake, Virginia, store, according to the company. Police say he opened fire on fellow employees in the break room, killing six people and wounding six others, before apparently killing himself.
Briana Tyler, an employee who survived the shooting, said it appeared the gunman wasn’t targeting anyone in particular. Tyler, who started at Walmart two months ago, said she’s never had a negative encounter with him, but others have told her she’s “the manager to look for.” He said Bing has a history of writing people up for no reason.
Two of the dead were identified by family members as 22-year-old Tynika Johnson and 39-year-old Brian Pendleton. The city of Chesapeake Wednesday evening identified the remaining adult victims as Lorenzo Gamble, Kellie Pyle, Randall Blevins. The identity of the sixth victim, a 16-year-old boy, was withheld because he was a minor, the city said said.
Policy change after 2019 shooting
Walmart launched a computer-based active shooter training in 2015, focusing on three pillars: avoid danger, keep your distance and, finally, defend. Then, after the 2019 mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, outside the storeWalmart stopped selling certain types of ammunition to warn the public of the danger and told customers to no longer openly carry firearms in its stores. Now it only sells hunting rifles and related ammunition.
Walmart did not specifically respond to questions Wednesday seeking more detail about its training and protocols to protect its employees. The company said only that it regularly reviews its training policies and will continue to do so.
Dansley said employers need to create open channels for raising concerns about employee behavior, including confidential hotlines. He noted that attention is often focused on “red flags” and that workers should be on the lookout for “yellow flags” — subtle changes in behavior, such as increased anger or absenteeism. Densley said managers need to work with these individuals to provide counseling and regular check-ins.
In fact, the Department of Homeland Security’s active shooting manual states that human resources officials have a responsibility to “establish a system for reporting signs of potential violent behavior.” It encourages employees to report behavior such as increased absenteeism and repeated violations of company policies.
But many employers don’t have such prevention policies in place, said Liz Patterson, quality manager for the Society for Human Resource Management, an organization of more than 300,000 human resources professionals.
It noted that in a 2019 SHRM survey of its members, 55% of HR professionals said they did not know if their organizations had policies in place to prevent workplace violence, and another 9% said that they lack such programs. This was in contrast to 57% of HR managers who said they had training to respond to violence.
A recent federal government Reports A review of workplace violence over three decades found that workplace homicides have increased in recent years, although they are down sharply from peaks in the mid-1990s.
Reduction in workplace homicides
The latest Walmart attack was the second major mass shooting in the United States in the past few days. Five peopleWhen a suspect opened fire at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado early Sunday morning.
Between 2014 and 2019, workplace homicides nationwide increased 11 percent, from 409 to 454. That’s still down 58 percent from a peak of 1,080 in 1994, according to the report, which was released in July by the Department of Labor, Justice and Health. and human services. The report found that trends in workplace homicides broadly reflect homicide trends nationwide.
But the rise in mass shootings across the country is raising awareness among employers about the need to address mental health and prevent violence in the workplace — and if they ignore the warning signs, Patterson said. Employers may face liabilities.
In a high-profile example, a victim’s family filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against a Northern California transportation agency earlier this year, alleging it failed to address a history of threatening behavior by an employee who Nine co-workers were shot dead. Light rail yard in San Jose in 2021.
The transportation agency released more than 200 pages of emails and other documents showing the shooter, Samuel James Cassidy, four workplace conduct investigations, and one worker. It was feared that Cassidy “might go to the post.” This is illustrated by one of the deadliest workplace shootings in American history, when a postal worker shot and killed 14 workers in Edmond, Oklahoma in 1986.
“Workplace violence is a situation that you never think is going to happen to your organization until it does, and unfortunately, it’s important to prepare for them,” Patterson said. because they’re becoming more common,” Patterson said.