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Are you worried about violence in your workplace?

Most people don't consider that when they leave for work in the morning, they may never return home again that evening. Yet for far too many families, the specter of workplace violence haunts them, leaving them only with memories of their loved one.

In one recent year during the last decade tracked by the United States government, a total of 517 individuals were murdered while at work, a steep drop of 52 percentage points since 1994.

Even while those numbers appear to be on the decline, a survey put on by American College showed that there was an uptick of physical altercations, bullying and harassment. One student of workplace violence at the nonprofit educational institution for financial services professionals, sees this type of violence as an epidemic.

"The call volume to human resource officers, to their EAP programs, to counselors is sky rocketing," he said. "We are . . . in a period . . . of among the highest periods of threats at work in . . . recent memory."

Is the workforce responding to the crisis appropriately? They may be getting better now, but 11 years ago, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that only 30 percent of companies had formal programs to address workplace violence.

Employers miss the mark by not providing workers with training in spotting signs of potential violence in their coworkers. The American College expert who has studied thousands of incidents where violence was threatened or erupted stated that in approximately 82 percent of the incidents, signs are present that an employee is experiencing difficulty.

Signals are not always blatant. It could be something like an angry blog entry or lashing out at a co-worker on a social media site, or perhaps someone overreacted to criticism about their work. Signals might also include obsessing over certain colleagues or work policies or bullying other employees.

Companies like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that have taken steps to be proactive in combating workplace violence should be commended. It has an employee hotline as an adjunct to its RESPECT program to alert employers to possible acts of deadly workplace aggression.

If you were injured in, or lost a loved one to, workplace violence, you may turn to the Illinois civil courts for financial compensation.

Source: CNN, "When co-workers kill: Workplace violence on the rise," accessed July 01, 2016

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