Workplace violence kills hundreds each year

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by Scott Noll / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on December 1, 2012 at 12:43 AM

Updated Saturday, Dec 1 at 1:00 AM

HOUSTON – Friday’s attack at a car dealership is the second workplace shooting in Houston this week.

On Saturday, police said a fired security guard shot and killed his replacement at a northwest Harris County convenience store.

Numbers uncovered by the KHOU 11 News I-Team show workplace violence kills hundreds of people across America each year.

According to figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 458 people were killed in workplace violence in 2011. 

In Texas, between 2005 and 2010, 43 people died on the job from attacks involving current or former co-workers.  Another 90 people in Texas were hurt during that time.

Dr. Asim Shah, a psychiatrist with the Baylor College of Medicine, says many times workplace attacks are fueled by stress.

“It usually doesn’t happen overnight,” explained Shah.  “It slowly builds up, so some signs can be seen in some patients, if not all.”

He said signs include co-workers who seem depressed, anxious or irritable.  Shah said other warning signs include workers who pick fights with the boss, or show up late to work.

Shah also warns access to guns can play a role in workplace violence.

“If you have access to a firearm, you will use that firearm or may use, or can use that firearm in that unnecessary, irresponsible decision you’re about to make,” said Shah.

He said the best way to prevent workplace attacks is to foster open communication in the office.  In other words, he says, let workers know that if they have problems, somebody will listen.

But in the end, Shah warns, there’s no easy way to end the problem of workplace violence.

“It takes only one person to cause this kind of thing,” said the psychiatrist.  “So even if you do all those things, if there is one person who, in their mind, things are not going well, this can happen.”

 

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