A Conversation about WPV
“But workplace violence (WPV) isn’t that prevalent and isn’t likely to hit my business. I take care of my employees and they are all happy”
So started my recent conversation with a small business owner in Scottsdale, AZ. What I found out was that he didn’t understand what WPV really was. Nor did he realize, or acknowledge, the many different facets of it.
“WPV affects 100% of all businesses in this country.” I said “Just because it doesn’t involve a firearm doesn’t mean that something isn’t WPV.”
“Like what?” he said with a scoffing smile
“Items such as bomb threats and hoaxes are considered WPV. Verbal assaults and threats are also elements of WPV. And then of course, you can add bullying and harassment into that as well.” I then went on to name a few WPV incidents that had occurred in the Phoenix area.
“Are you kidding me? Those things are not WPV.” He again scoffed
“Ah, but they are. The reasoning is that each and every one of them can contribute to someone bringing in a firearm or using something like an ink pen or coffee cup to assault.”
“But OSHA only counts actually assaults and not that other stuff.”
“This is true and a fact that too many WPV professionals believe and fall into. OSHA only counts 2 million incidents a year. However, they don’t count incidents in schools, against teachers and staff…” seeing his look I explained “Are not schools places of employment for teachers and administrators?”
“Yes, but it’s not the same” he persisted. Instead of arguing with him I went on.
“In 2005 the University of South Florida released a study that concluded that more than half of American workers are assaulted, bullied, harassed, or threatened every year, over 75 million. And more than 10% of workers are actually assaulted every year. Whether those are physically or verbally, and yes a verbal dressing down by someone, if done in anger, is an assault.” I stated.
And the disturbing thought is that each fatal incident can cost you as much as $10 million dollars. And this doesn’t count the fact it’ll take about 2 months to get back to full production and productivity. And then of course the psychological trauma induced by the incident…”
“But that’s why I have insurance! They’ll cover all that stuff, I don’t need to worry about that.”
“Are you sure?” I queried. “Few companies, unless they are self-insured for millions can rest easy knowing that they are actually covered.”
“Well… I need to mingle some more, but I really don’t believe all of that.” He turned to walk away and then asked “If I were wanting to talk to someone who would I call around here (meaning Kansas City)?” I gave him the name of a very reputable consultant and security company I used to work for and went on my way.
Several weeks later I received a call from the consultant and the company thanking me for the referral for a WPV evaluation. Apparently the business owner didn’t want to talk to me about it, but then again I do live in Phoenix!
And the business owners occupation? He owned a company that molded and anodized metal. He had about 75 employees, more in the business season.
Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on security issues, specifically workplace violence. He has spent 32 years in the security field. Contact him at 480-251-5197 or Visit his Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/oneistoomany, here you will read about other items related to security & WPV issues.