Workplace Violence Expert Urges Employees To Act On Warning Signs
January 25, 2011
- No amount of prevention can stop a person who is determined to commit an act of violence in the workplace
- Proper planning can reduce the likelihood of an incident ... and prepare an organization to deal with one if necessary
Deborah Russell Collins was a security manager in 1988 when seven of her colleagues were shot and killed by a former coworker who returned to their central California company building with weapons and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition.
Feeling responsible, Collins didn't speak publicly about the incident for eight years.
Collins eventually began speaking regularly about the shooting and educating people to prevent workplace violence in order to deal positively with the incident. She spoke to a group of Fort Monmouth employees in December at Gibbs Hall.
"No amount of prevention can stop a person who is determined to commit an act of violence in the workplace," said Collins. "Proper planning can reduce the likelihood of an incident ... and prepare an organization to deal with one if necessary."
"As leaders, we share the responsibility to look out for the workforce," said Collins, who has trained security officers in the intelligence community for the past 20 years. "Going through change, such as what's happening here at Fort Monmouth, can cause a lot of stress in the workforce."
The Fort Monmouth Community Health Promotion Council hosted Collins as part of its series of programs for post employees. The council is a task force made up of eight supporting agencies to assist the workforce through the challenges associated with the post's closure due to the Base Realignment and Closure 2005 law.
Collins said that her goal was to inform the audience about a workplace violence prevention program and what managers and employees should be aware of. Collins also urged the audience to take the responsibility to act on warning signs they observe.
"The one thing I hope everyone takes away from today is, 'If you see something, say something.' After the fact, there are always reports of employees saying, 'I could have told you this would happen.' So many people don't come forward because 75 percent don't think that management will do anything."
Fort Monmouth has had a violence prevention program since 2004, according to Patricia Coyle, supervisory human resources specialist. It includes a committee comprised of key post community members that work with managers to prevent workplace violence and learn to recognize and manage potentially dangerous situations.
The committee also works to establish a state of preparedness to respond to potential and actual threats to employees' safety and establish a crisis support team to help employees deal with stressful situations in an appropriate manner.