Written by Robert D. Sollars
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“But workplace violence (WPV) isn’t that prevalent around here and rarely happens to any company, and I haven’t heard of any incidents around Phoenix! It isn’t likely to hit my business, mainly because we take care of our employees and they are all happy, cared for, and well paid!”
So started a recent conversation with a Tempe, AZ. business owner along with innumerable other conversations about WPV in the Phoenix area. What I discovered wasn’t surprising, at least to me, that he didn’t understand what WPV really entailed. Nor did he realize, or acknowledge, the many different facets of WPV.
“WPV affects 100% of all businesses in this country.” I said, “Just because it doesn’t involve a firearm doesn’t mean that something isn’t WPV.”
“Like what?” he said with a scoffing smile, and a smirk on his face, that even I could recognize being blind. “Well, okay, here is a sample list of incidents that are considered WPV by those of us in the field”. Remember if it is done with malice, in any form it is WPV:
Items such as bomb threats and hoaxes are.
Verbal assaults and threats are also elements that can’t be ignored.
Then, of course, you can add bullying and harassment into that as well, again in any form it would take.
I then went on to name a few WPV incidents that had occurred in the Phoenix area lately.
“Are you kidding me? Those things are not WPV.” He again scoffed
“Ah, but they are. The reasoning is that each and every one of them can contribute to someone bringing in a firearm or using something like an ink pen or coffee cup to assault one of your employees or customers who may be on the property.”
“But OSHA only counts actual physical assaults and not that other stuff.”
“This is true, and a fact that too many security professionals & business owners/managers believe and fall into. OSHA only counts 2 million incidents a year. However, they don’t count incidents in schools, against teachers and staff…” sensing his disbelief look I explained, “Are not schools places of employment for teachers and administrators?”
“Yes, but it’s not the same” he persisted. Instead of arguing with him, I went on.
“In 2005 the University of South Florida released a study that concluded that more than half of American workers are assaulted, bullied, harassed, or threatened every year, over 75 million. And more than 10% of workers are actually assaulted every year. Whether those are physically or verbally, and yes, a verbal dressing down by someone, if done in anger, is an assault.” I stated. “The disturbing thought is that each fatal incident can cost you as much as $10 million dollars, with or without insurance. And this doesn’t take into account the fact it’ll take about 2 months to get back to full productivity. Then of course the psychological trauma induced by the incident…”
“But that’s why I have insurance! They’ll cover all that stuff; I don’t need to worry about that.”
“Are you sure?” I queried. “Few companies, unless they are self-insured for millions can rest easy knowing that they are actually covered. Insurance may pay the majority of it, but a single fatality could still cost you millions, which could result in business closure or bankruptcy”
“Well… I need to mingle some more, but I really don’t believe all of that.” He turned to walk away and then asked “If I were wanting to talk to someone about gaining security guards and such, who would I call around here?” I told him succinctly “I’ll be your consultant & trainer, since I have nearly 40 years in the field, and for security officers try this one.” I then shook his hand again, going on about my business.
Several weeks later I received a call from the company thanking me for the referral for a WPV evaluation. Apparently, the business owner didn’t want to talk to me about it, which could have had several reasons why…
The business owner’s occupation? He owned a company that molded and anodized metal. He had about 75 employees, more in his busy season. If you know anything about anodizing liquid…it’s hot and would kill nearly instantaneously if someone ‘fell’ into it.
It happens to Anyone…Any Time… Anywhere… For any Reason
I May Be Blind, but My Vision Is Crystal Clear
Permission to share? Of course, with full attribution.
Copyright 2021 Robert D. Sollars