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Workplace homicides, suicides continue to plague employers


Violence-driven fatalities remain a critical problem for employers contending with how to reduce deadly incidents at work, experts say.

The number of fatalities caused by violence and other injuries by persons or animals spiked to 866 in 2016, before falling to 807 in 2017, according to the latest data released in December by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

However, that number is still well above the 703 deaths that occurred in 2015.

“It’s just a reminder that it’s very much a prevalent issue that organizations still need to pay attention to and not put it on the back burner,” said W. Barry Nixon, Alpharetta, Georgia-based executive director of the National Institute for Prevention of Workplace Violence Inc., which works with private and public organizations to develop violence prevention and response plans.

Much of the focus related to workplace violence “mistakenly” revolves around active shooter incidents, but suicides are also an important risk to address, he said.

In 2017, 351 workplace homicides were caused by intentional shooting by another person while 275 workplace suicides were recorded by the BLS.

“There is a pressing need for organizations to understand that suicides that occur in the workplace are a growing problem,” Mr. Nixon said. “We’ve seen a growth in active shooter programs that employers are putting in place … but the practical reality is that we see very little movement in terms of employers putting in programs that address suicides in the workplace.”

Detection is the key to stemming workplace violence because it allows employers to intervene before an issue results in a violent incident, he said. This includes ensuring that supervisors and employees understand warning signs and bring them to the attention of the right personnel and that silos that may exist within an organization do not prevent early intervention.

“What we find is that many of the systems for reporting problematic behaviors are not integrated,” he said.






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