The Unnecessary Disaster at the #WallMartChesapeskeVA Workplace Shootings and Shooter’s Suicide

Posted on: December 1st, 2022

Was this shooting incident preventable?

 

The Unnecessary Disaster at the #WallMartChesapeskeVA Workplace Shootings and Shooter’s Suicide. https://news-yahoo-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/news.yahoo.com/amphtml/walmart-shooting-raises-violence-prevention-121107775.html

Was this incident preventable? There is a difference between an employee shooter and a public space shooter, employers should never find themselves in a situation where they allow a disgruntled employee to transition to an active shooter.  This shooting had warning signs as big as Stop Signs on every corner.

The mass shooting Wednesday at a Walmart in Virginia was only the latest example of a workplace shooting perpetrated by an employee.

 

So how do these incidents happen in the first place?

 

While many companies provide active shooter training this is a misplaced use of focus when fear is driving the decision.  Because of the emphasis on active shooter, there is much less focus on how to prevent workplace violence, particularly how to identify and address worrisome behavior among employees.

Assumption is the culprit followed by convenience and expediency. Employers think the workplace violence prevention policy is the solution and they are wrong. There is an emotional component to workplace violence involving reporting fellow workers that employers are overlooking and hence not properly designing and delivering training.  How do we explain such occurrences? Workers far too often don’t know how to recognize warning signs, and even more crucially don’t know how to report suspicious behavior or even feel empowered to do so. These are not my thoughts or opinions alone anymore.

I was upset about the Colorado Springs Q Club surprise attack shootings on Saturday but, I am disgusted by the #WallMartChesapeakeVA senseless shootings because all the warning signs & risk factors were allegedly reported.  We are grateful for the Hero who initiated the take down of the shooter in saving more lives at the Walmart incident. There is a value to proper training of the workforce in active shooter risk immediate protective measures; however, while I know there’s a place for active shooter, it should be incorporated as part of a basic workplace violence prevention training initiative.

The Q Club Shooting was not preventable from the Club perspective because the threat was unknown by the Club. However, the manager involved in the Walmart Shooting was an allegedly known threat with employees reporting their concerns, and observations. This was preventable!

 

What does OSHA imply and was the Walmart incident preventable?

 

OSHA under its Duty to Warn Clause speaks about “Known Hazards”. A Known Hazard is typically a condition or situation that can cause injury or fatality to an employee during the performance of their duties. As it relates to violence, it can be a faulty locking device that allows unauthorized access, an open reception area that gives easy access to work areas, or a faulty light in the employee parking lot that results in a sexual attack or robbery. But as it pertains to an employee, it can be an employee whose known behavior has been reported and unresolved as we saw in the Walmart Shooting. In the Walmart Shooting incident, we are exposed to a legal term referred to as “foreseeability”. The Known Hazard might be the employee shooter coupled with the employee reports equals foreseeability in this shooting incident. What would you say is the Known Hazard when it comes to manager complaints by employees. The manager who probably received the benefit of the doubt.

 

Is there a double standard?

 

Is it that the employee complaints against managers are filed as frivolous and regarded as unsubstantiated reports by unhappy workers who do not want to work? Proper assessment of employee complaints and reports when verified might have prevented this unfortunate outcome. Certainly, root cause analysis might have identified, and substantiated the allegations and uncovered contributing factors.

 

A paradigm shift is in order

 

First and foremost, workplace violence prevention consulting is a specialty. Know the differences between the consultant and the trainer.  Workplace violence prevention training should be an organizational mandate. When referring to employees, senior leaders should understand that supervisors and managers are employees also and should be seen in attendance along with “employees”.  Employee perception of the meaning of zero tolerance has a negative connotation that is clouded by distrust and suspicion. Whatever the logic applied by management in preventing this disaster already has disastrous consequences that will manifest in employee trauma, lost workdays, increase medical cost, and increased legal cost associated with consequential civil liability accountability.

 

How can we focus on prevention?

 

Let me say it again, you should not have a workplace violence prevention policy if the main intent is protections against the employer’s employment risk and removal of the “bad” employee. Because accountable and responsible leadership requires that such policies are supported by a workplace violence prevention program, plans, procedures, and quality training attended by ALL EMPLOYEES) CEO, Senior Managers, Supervisors and Employees). Dismantle the myth and false premise that prevention does not have an ROI (Return on Investment). Workplace violence prevention is both a management and workforce responsibility.

 

What can be done to dismantle myths?

 

Training content should be audience, and worksite specific. When such training takes place supervisors, and managers having functional oversight must lead by example by attending the training. Training that explains the policy, humanizes reporting, discusses warning signs and escalating behavior, and gives actual examples of each in connecting with the audience substantiates the training credibility. Make such training relevant to employee concerns by asking for their input in support of the training objectives. Stop allowing” experts “to dictate the content. Expect that the trainer will design training around your specific concerns reinforced by the expert’s experience and expertise.

Workplace violence prevention cannot be left to chance or for the workforce to unpack. It starts at the top with senior leadership and the recognition of their responsibility at the top to support the initiative and fund the training.

 

 

Now is a Better Time than Ever to Refresh Your Workplace Violence Prevention Measures Before Any Civil Liability Allegation Claim of Negligence https://bit.ly/3Sjokey

 

 

About the Author: Felix P. Nater is a Certified Security Consultant as awarded by the International Association of Professional Security Consultants (IAPSC) who helps organizations implement and manage workplace security strategy with an emphasis on workplace violence prevention. Celebrating his 20th year as President and Chief Security Consultant at Nater Associates, Ltd., Felix’s experience and expertise emanates from his working experience as a United States Postal Inspector on a Violence Interdiction Team and his consulting practice. His consulting solutions are unique and in alignment with his client-centered delivery. Contact Felix at 704-784-0260. His website is www.naterassociates.com.

What are your thoughts?