Finance News & Insights

Connecticut shooting raises questions about workplace safety

The most recent workplace shooting, which left nine dead (including the shooter) and others injured, begs the question, “How safe are we really at work?”

Here’s the backstory behind the recent tragedy:

Hartford Distributor, Inc. employee Omar Thornton agreed to resign from the company after he was confronted by company and union officials about stealing beer and presented with video evidence to back up their claims.

After calmly signing his resignation, Thornton grabbed a gun he’d brought with him committed the largest act of workplace violence in Connecticut’s history.

Events of this magnitude always raise the obligatory questions about what — if anything — could have been done to prevent such an act.

While workplace violence numbers are down, an average of three people per day are murdered at work in the United States, according Larry Barton, an expert in workplace violence who leads seminars for the FBI.

Based on the 1,800 incidents of workplace violence he’s studied over the past 26 years, Barton says there have been signals in 71% of the cases.

Some of the warning signs employees who end up committing workplace violence exhibit include:

  • an inflexible nature
  • unwillingness to take feedback from supervisors or co-workers
  • inability to get along with co-workers, and
  • prior history of abusing drugs or alcohol.

So what can employees do prevent workplace violence? Barton advice to workers:  “If you see something, say something” — in much the way people do of suspicious activity at airports.

Readers, do you feel safe at work? What does your company to prevent workplace violence? Let us know in the Comments section.

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