In researching workplace violence, “store shooting” is one of the Google Alerts I have set up on my computer. Today, ten separate incidents popped up under that heading:
- Recently fired manager fatally shoots another manager at outlet store in Orlando
- Deputies fatally shoot man who threatened workers with a knife at Orlando store
- Walmart working with police on shooting in Tennessee store
- Murfreesboro, Tennessee police searching for man who shot store clerk
- Man fatally shot outside Las Vegas liquor store identified
- Roswell, Georgia police arrest murder suspects in store shooting
- Codefendant says teen killed man and wounded woman outside North Stafford, Virginia store
- Gunman killed, 2 others hurt in shooting at Walmart in Forrest City, Arkansas
- One person seriously injured in Sturgeon, Missouri store shooting
This one day’s posting involved nine different shootings—two in Orlando, two in Tennessee, and two at Walmart. However, none of these appear to be an active shooter situation. Shootings are only one form of workplace violence. Where does it end?
Most experts agree that healthcare workers, and nurses in particular, are the most susceptible to workplace violence. One statistic shows that, while healthcare workers make up 12.2 percent of the working population, they account for 75 percent of workplace assaults.
While I was unable to find exact statistics on retail workplace violence, retail is often listed in the top three or four industries most prone to it. But, as a whole, workplace violence statistics are frightening. Statistics from 2018 – 2019 show that:
- Nearly 2 million workers report having been victims of workplace violence each year. However, OSHA estimates that more than that number of cases go unreported.
- 80 percent of emergency medical personnel have been attacked by patients.
- Of the seven possible causes of death at work, homicide makes up 9 percent.
- More than 44 percent of teachers report being physically attacked while at school in one year.
- There have been 150 employee-on-employee killings since 2010.
- $121 billion in losses annually are attributed to workplace assaults.
So, what can retail employers do to protect themselves and their employees against workplace violence? Below are two lists that we have previously published on that subject that bear repeating:
- Have a written zero-tolerance policy towards workplace violence and develop a written prevention program.
- Provide workplace violence training that includes what to look for, what to report, and what to do during an actual incident.
- Encourage reporting of concerns or specific incidences with a mechanism that makes it easy and, potentially, confidential.
- Consider using outside expertise to provide threat assessment training and physical security upgrades.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health developed the following guidelines to prevent violence for employers whose workers have direct contact with the public:
- Use physical barriers to protect workers.
- Install silent alarm systems and panic buttons.
- Use mirrors and raised platforms.
- Use bright and effective lighting.
- Ensure sufficient staffing levels to ensure a safe working environment.
- Use drop safes and post signs indicating only a limited amount of cash available.
- Use height markers on exit doors.
- Use video surveillance equipment to monitor all activity.
- Control or limit access to the facility.
- Install locks on doors that lead to staff-only areas.
Nothing will prevent workplace violence totally. But, for both employers and employees, taking basic precautions and being informed, alert, and aware will go a long way in minimizing its impact on the workforce.