Recognizing Potential Workplace Violence


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An active shooter in your workplace may be a current or former employee, or an acquaintance of a current or former employee.  Intuitive managers and coworkers may notice characteristics of potentially violent behavior in an employee. Alert your Human Resources Department if you believe an employee or coworker exhibits potentially violent behavior.

Indicators of Potential Violence by an Employee

Employees typically do not just “snap,” but display indicators of potentially violent behavior over time.  If these behaviors are recognized, they can often be managed and treated.  Potentially violent behaviors by an employee may include one or more of the following (this list of behaviors is not comprehensive, nor is it intended as a mechanism for diagnosing violent tendencies):

  • Increased use of alcohol and/or illegal drugs;
  • Unexplained increase in absenteeism; vague physical complaints;
  • Noticeable decrease in attention to appearance and hygiene;
  • Depression / withdrawal;
  • Resistance and overreaction to changes in policy and procedures;
  • Repeated violations of company policies;
  • Increased severe mood swings;
  • Noticeably unstable, emotional responses;
  • Explosive outbursts of anger or rage without provocation;
  • Suicidal; comments about “putting things in order”;
  • Behavior which is suspect of paranoia, (“everybody is against me”);
  • Increasingly talks of problems at home;
  • Escalation of domestic problems into the workplace; talk of severe financial problems;
  • Talk of previous incidents of violence;
  • Empathy with individuals committing violence;
  • Increase in unsolicited comments about firearms, other dangerous weapons and
  • violent crimes;

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