It happened again today, May 26, 2021. A mass shooting. This time in San Jose, at a light rail yard with several employees. The alleged perpetrator, a Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority employee, killed at least 8 and wounded many others, including several co-workers. Why? We may never know.
This incident is one of multiple gun-related workplace violence events so far this year. In March, several employees – many of them women of Asian descent – were killed by a gunman at three spas in and around Atlanta. Less than a week later, 10 people (customers and employees) were killed at a supermarket in Boulder, Colorado. Just a few months after that, a former employee opened fire on workers at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis, killing several former co-workers. And then this morning, in San Jose.
Gun control obviously is a complex and divisive issue in this country. Employers, though, have a particular challenge. California law requires them to provide a “safe and healthful” workplace, which includes implementing a written, effective “Injury and Illness Prevention Program.” Workplace violence prevention must be addressed in the IIPP, and employers are required to provide appropriate training to employees, tailored to their job duties and work environment.
Yet, employers often tell us that workplace violence prevention training is “not a priority,” that their organization is “safe,” and they “don’t want to worry their employees.” Of course, we all hope nothing violent happens at our place of work. But hoping isn’t enough. Employers need to take pro-active steps to minimize the potential for workplace violence. Now.
Update your IIPP and workplace violence prevention policy. Understand how frequently domestic violence spills over to work, and encourage employees to report violence that occurs at home and seek assistance. Train your employees on how to identify the warning signs of violence, and the steps to take if violence erupts. Planning can make a difference.
Our hearts go out to the victims of today’s tragedy and their families.