Authorities are still learning more about the deadly shooting rampage at a Navy yard in Washington, which killed 13 people, including the alleged gunman. While the investigation into the shooting continues, the shooting serves as a tragic reminder of how violence can be brought into almost any location, including the workplace.
Though this recent massacre has not officially been classified as such, the victims, who range in age from 46 to 73, were in their place of work when the shooting occurred.
“Workplace violence has always been here, mass shootings have always been here,” said Eddie Gonzales, a crime analyst with over three decades of police experience. “I think now that there has been more coverage on it, it's been more prominent.”
According to the United States Department of Labor, nearly 2 million American workers report having been victims of workplace violence each year, with many cases going unreported. Although workplace homicides may attract more attention, the department says non-fatal assaults are actually more common.
“I think there's always disagreements at work with people not getting along, I think it's always been here, and always will be,” Gonzales said.
Gonzales said there may or may not be warning signs ahead of workplace violence, but the key in preventing them, is awareness and education.
“It's always important just to be aware of your surroundings, and that can apply to anything,” Gonzales said. “When you pull into any parking lot to go to work, when you go to the grocery store, always look around. Always see what's happening, and what can affect you.”
In 1989, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published guidelines for employers to use, as part of implementing workplace violence prevention programs.