The February shooting at the Molson Coors campus in Milwaukee, which left five people dead, followed other high profile mass violence workplace incidents in recent months, including a shooting at a Chicago factory that took five lives and injured six police officers a year earlier and the Virginia Beach shooting that took 12 lives last May.
Acts of Violence are Third Leading Cause of Occupational Injuries in the U.S.
While these tragic events capture national and global headlines, the reality is that acts of violence and other injuries are the third leading cause of occupational injuries in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational injuries. In fact, of the 5,147 fatal workplace injuries that occurred in the United States in 2017, 458 were “cases of intentional injury by another person.”
In additional to the tragic fatal events like those above, statistics also show the pervasiveness of workplace violence in the U.S.
500,000 Non-Fatal Violent Crimes in the Workplace Every Year
More than half a million nonfatal violent crimes (rape/sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated and simple assault) occurred in the workplace in 2009. This is the latest data available, from a 2011 report issued by the Bureau of Justice Statistics through its National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS).
Aside from the unnecessary loss of life and suffering that comes from these crimes in the workplace, the economic implications are equally stark.
Workplace Violence Costs $121 Billion Annually
Estimates are that workplace violence has $121 billion annual cost to business through lost productivity, legal expenses, property damage, reputational damage and increased security needs.
And, as a result of these incidents each year more than half a million employees lose 1,175,000 workdays and $55 million in wages.
While the human and economic impacts demonstrate that workplace violence mitigation should be a top priority for all businesses, research shows that on average organizations only spend an average of $4.50 per employee annually on prevention efforts.
Workplace Mitigation Tactics
Security experts suggest a variety of tactics to help mitigate workplace violence including:
- More thorough pre-employment vetting;
- Re-vetting and re-screening processes of employees;
- Training and crisis response plans;
- Clear policies and procedures to protect employees;
- An HR plan which includes a policy related to domestic violence or child protective orders which may impact the work environment;
- Consistent communication to employees about workplace violence;
- Hiring trusted security advisors; and
- Training on observable behaviors that may lead to violence
Identifying Indicators of Violence
According to the Critical Incident Response Group at the FBI’s National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime’s monograph Workplace Violence, Issues in Response, “[W]hen the violence comes from an employee or someone close to an employee, there is a much greater chance that some warning sign will have reached the employer in the form of observable behavior. That knowledge, along with the appropriate prevention programs, can at the very least mitigate the potential for violence or prevent it altogether.”
Creating a Culture of Engagement
“Workplace violence prevention begins when organizations facilitate a culture of engagement,” said Dr. Kathleen Kiernan, a member of the Lumina Advisory Board and a 29-year law enforcement veteran.
“The first line of defense in workplace violence prevention is an engaged workforce, and they should all feel comfortable with reporting things that do not look or feel right.”
Kiernan’s developed training materials to help organizations develop that culture of engagement, which helps employees understand behaviors indicative of violence, and become comfortable reporting concerns when they see them.
See Something, Say Something
While anonymous reporting hotlines have been commonplace in businesses for decades, they lack the immediacy of action that can come from more sophisticated mobile applications.
Tools like Lumina’s See Something, Say Something (S4) app provide organizations with an easy tool to help their employees report concerns – confidentially – and in real time. Incidents uploaded can include photos, video or audio of the concerning behavior. And, location accuracy of the report is further enhanced through the geo-fencing of all company facilities.
Once an incident is uploaded, the report is immediately routed to centralized command portal, allowing internal security personnel to action intelligence based on existing operating protocols.
The Added Benefit of Open Source Intelligence
In addition to the value of observable workplace behaviors, is the value that can come from the analysis of employee behaviors online.
Research shows that more than 70 percent of employers now research social media sites during the screening process, and 57 percent have found content that has caused them not to hire a candidate.
And, consider that as part of security clearance processes for the federal government, analysis of publicly available social media is now being considered as part of the protocols and screening process.
Radiance is a deep-web listening tool that goes beyond just social listening and can help with employee pre-vetting and continuous monitoring.
And Radiance is also a powerful tool to further investigate and validate concerns reported through S4.
Radiance uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to assess and prioritize risk. It scours publicly available data across the entire internet, correlating names entered into the system with content related to 25 different risk factors, known as Behavioral Affinity Models (BAMs), and cross-referenced with more than 1 million queries into Lumina’s proprietary databases of risk.
And, it can ingest massive amounts of unstructured content from disparate internal data sources for further correlation and verification. Searches provide near-instant results, delivering meaningful, actionable intelligence to identify and prevent risk.
While a background check is still a necessary part of the hiring process, Radiance’s capabilities augment historical data found in background checks with real-time data available on the web that a traditional check would not uncover.