Dawn Marie Westmoreland Celebrates Her One Year Anniversary of Her Syndicated Radio Show “The Empowered Whistleblower”

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Dawn Marie Westmoreland Celebrates Her One Year Anniversary of Her Syndicated Radio Show “The Empowered Whistleblower”

Posted on: August 11th, 2021

This edition of News & Tips to Combat Workplace Violence – the Blog is highlighting Dawn Marie Westmoreland as the Guest Blogger in honor of Dawn’s one year anniversary of her syndicated radio show, “The Empowered Whistleblower”.  Dawn featured yours truly on the “The Empowered Whistleblower” show, to discuss the “WHY”, “WHAT” and “HOW” of workplace violence and workplace violence prevention.

Dawn interviewed me in the Spring following the tragic workplace homicides on April 15, 2021, at FedEx, Indianapolis, Indiana, resulting in the deaths of 8 coworkers and 5 injured totaling 13 victims who were innocently doing their respective jobs. Though this shooting incident was reported by the media and local police as an active shooter, this shooting was classified as a mass shooting.

What’s sad is that by April 2021, there were about 26 victims of workplace shootings. Unfortunately, that’s not all.  As of July 31, 411 mass shootings fitting the Mass Shooting Tracker project criterion, leaving 437 people dead and 1,688 injured, for a total of 2,125 total victims, some including the shooter(s). Though not all workplace related asking the question, why the penchant for violence?

(Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mass_shootings_in_the_United_States_in_2021)

Most businesses do not report workplace violence that does not result in deaths or serious injuries. That’s due to lack of communication, fear of taking action, and of course, lack of awareness. But the numbers are hard to ignore regardless.

Dawn thought the message was appropriate and applicable today in reminding our audience that as employees we all deserve to work in safe and respectful work environments and that proactive measures can be taken to reduce the threat and minimize the risks.

Dawn Marie Westmoreland, who has 30 years’ experience working in HR, is not new to workplace conflict and personnel security threats. So, this edition is ripe in presenting an important opportunity to bring up that while it was Fedex then, it could be any workplace or educational institution that could be victimized in similar fashion tomorrow. No workplace or educational institution is immune from the threat of workplace violence. How prepared are you really? Is the workplace active shooter an organizational prevention response or an unfortunate reaction to an unforeseen event?

OSHA reports that there are about 2 million reported incidents of workplace violence annually. By workplace violence we mean nonviolent acts (verbal abuse, name calling, harassment, bullying, intimidation, and threats) and violent acts (throwing objects with intent to injure, fist fights, sexual assault, lethal force such as armed robbery and active shooter, bomb threats, and terrorist acts).

Dawn’s objective during the radio show, which was also videotaped, was to bring out the value of workplace violence prevention in taking proactive measures that help an organization understand prevention as a philosophy, forging a mindset that understand the approach to take to resolve issues, reduce conflict, deescalate incidents, minimize risk and roll out hasty intervention measures.

We can reduce active shooting incidents and mass shooting fatalities and keep employees safe by taking workplace violence head on…

By assessing their worksites, employers can identify methods for reducing the likelihood of incidents occurring. OSHA believes that a well-written and implemented workplace violence prevention program, combined with engineering controls, administrative controls, and training can reduce the incidence of workplace violence in both the private sector and federal workplaces.

OSHA encourages employers to develop additional methods as necessary to protect employees in high-risk industries.” Source:  https://lnkd.in/d9mWD38

Click the link to see and listen to Dawn Marie Westmoreland interview Felix P. Nater, CSC, Security Management Consultant.   https://lnkd.in/dh4wr2q

Violence In America: a Workplace Responsibility

Posted on: June 30th, 2016

Violence in America is a Workplace Responsibility. It’s about management commitment, investment and leadership if workplace violence prevention is to have any real societal prevention value. I would like to make the leap in searching for a paradigm shift in how workplace violence prevention and violence response is taught in workplaces. For example, teaching warning signs alone will not help in identifying at risk employees or students without observable acts of aggression. “Merely teaching warning signs without connecting behavior and patterns can lead to false positives” (Professor James Alan Fox, Professor, Lipman Family Professor of Criminology, Law and Public Policy at Northeastern University and author of Violence and Security on Campus: From Preschool Through College).

Recent violent acts of aggression suggest a correlation between workplace violence and violence in America. If we accept the leap that workplaces reflect a microcosm of our society, it’s safe to reason that workplaces have a responsibility to introduce credible workplace violence prevention and violence response policies, procedures and training.  If management commitment believes in the effect of the disgruntled employee, the potential for the “workplace spillover into society” then is a reality. Can workplace management exercise more leadership in its responsibility to manage the potentially hostile workplace settings? The following are employee first hand accounts of just this.

If one believes the news accounts, law enforcement and employee reports, there appears to be a disgruntled employee involvement, and its “workplace spillover into Society” may be a new threat between the recent incidents at San Bernardino, CA and Orlando, Fla.

“In the San Bernardino Shooting incident, “Investigators believe there were three gunmen and one of them had worked at the facility and recently had a dispute with fellow employees, according to law enforcement officials.” (Michael Schmidt, New York Times, Details Emerge of a Deadly Plan)

 

“Farook… was a 28-year-old public health employee for San Bernardino County, where he had worked for the past five years. According to witnesses, he began to argue with another employee at the office holiday party. He then left the party and retrieved his wife, and both returned around 11 a.m. armed with assault rifles and semi-automatic handguns and dressed in black tactical gear.” (San Bernardino: Workplace Violence or Terrorism?, Stratfor Analysis, December 3, 2015)

The correlation between public violence and the angry/disgruntled employee threat may be an “ambiguous and present danger.” That being the case, I believe that workplace management has a leadership role in implementing and managing robust, agile and proactive workplace violence prevention and violence response policies and programs. Unfortunately, it is impossible to prevent incidents of workplace violence entirely. However, by implementing comprehensive procedures, educating employees on necessity of recognizing and reporting threatening, suspicious or otherwise troubling conduct, and taking other preventive measures puts an employer in a better position to recognize, confront and perhaps eliminate some of the risk of workplace violence.

“The recent tragic events at San Bernardino, CA and Orlando, FL serve as a reminder of the evidence that forthcoming violence may start in the workplace. In the case of the Orlando shooter, the subsequent investigation had revealed that the shooter made threatening and/or menacing statements at work about his ties to different terrorist organizations. He is also reported to have made statements of support, at work, for the violent and extreme actions of others, such as the Boston bombing perpetrators. Such reports question whether the employer even had a credible reporting policy in place.” (The Workplace Report with Ancel Glink, Workplace Violence – Time for Policy Review, Bob McCabe, Friday, June 17, 2016)

Proper training in aspects of workplace violence prevention teach employees how to best connect the dots between warning signs and aggression as potential indicators of things to come. Employers unintentionally diminish the value of workplace violence prevention by undertaking such training on limited budgets and/or with internal resources using expedient means, measures and time limitations. How does an organization train adults on workplace violence prevention in front of a computer without the benefit of an experienced facilitator to answer hypothetical questions and respond to concerns? Such approaches to training undermine employee confidence, as the training is seen as “checking the box”. Employers have an obligation to attach as much credibility to the importance of the training by not unconsciously sabotaging their own efforts.

Adequate training in active shooter/hostile intruder by an experienced workplace violence prevention consultant who understands organizational design, workplace dynamics and the human relations issues are better suited to correlate workplace violence prevention with the mindset of the active shooter/hostile intruder threat, as a part of the training and consulting process. Employees who are exposed to the 5 (five) stages or 5 (five) phases of the active shooter mindset can make better prevention decisions and draw prevention value from recognizing and reporting strange behavior. The workforce family that spends 1/2 of their 24 hour clock at work often are familiar with co-worker problems and violence prone displays which rear their ugly heads at work. Denial of the importance as a critical workplace safety concern undermines the investment and commitment. Such an unfortunate position reminds me of the old Lee Myles Transmission TV commercial: “Pay me now or pay me later.” The sad truth is that civil liability lawsuits will cost the firm much more that the meager financial investment in the training.

Because employees are a microcosm of our society, those who commit such crimes reflect our communities. Perpetrators exposed to at risk environmental factors such as difficult and domestic and family lives, financial burdens exacerbated by hardships, medical problems and other personal problems increase vulnerabilities and gaps in physical and personnel security. Prone to aggression these employees can become the aggressors, attractive pawns who blame others and likely victims who don’t report the victimization. In his book, “In Search of the Miraculous”,  Russian philosopher Peter Ouspensky lists four basic causes of negative emotions: (1) justification; (2) identification; (3) inward considering; and (4) blame. It is blame that especially generates anger. Ouspensky believes that the trigger of anger, resentment, envy, jealousy, and frustration is blame.

Since the Orlando shooting massacre, the phrase, “If you see something say something” has been tossed around by law enforcement.” What better way for workplace management to recognize a leadership responsibility in helping employees recognize warning signs, acts of aggression before some of the signs mentioned above are manifested and overlooked and something like a shooting at work or a public placed tied to a workplace issue ever happens.