Make us your home page
Instagram

Business security a balance of risk, cost

A police officer talks with FedEx employees after an early morning shooting April 29 in Kennesaw, Ga.

Associated Press

A police officer talks with FedEx employees after an early morning shooting April 29 in Kennesaw, Ga.

Security in the workplace could mean locked doors, metal detectors, electronic badges for employees, cameras and armed guards.

But a typical corporate office is simply not ready for a determined, armed assault — and most companies do not want the cost and climate that comes with that kind of protection, said Darrell Mercer, owner of Mercer Protection Agency in Alpharetta.

While many companies put a guard near the door or in the lobby, they are often unarmed, said Mercer, whose company offers protection for executives, as well as corporate and event security.

"You can take precautions and you can be alert. But things do happen, unfortunately," he said recently, a few hours after the FedEx sorting center shootings in Kennesaw, Ga.

"If somebody really intends on doing harm and they set their minds on it, you just can't stop it 100 percent," Mercer said.

Workplaces have been the most common sites for mass shootings, according to a report last year from the Congressional Research Service. An employee or former employee was the shooter in about one-third of 78 mass shootings the report studied between 1983 and 2012.

The agency said there were 463 workplace homicides in workplaces in 2012, accounting for 10 percent of all on-the-job fatalities.

Yet the number of workplace homicides has decreased since the mid 1990s, said Dan Hartley, workplace violence prevention coordinator at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Moreover, the stereotype of the homicidal employee or bitter ex-worker is in the minority, Hartley said.

Three-quarters of workplace homicides involve theft or robbery. Just 17 percent involve a worker or someone with a personal relationship to a worker, he said.

Employers have a financial as well as human interest in a secure workplace. From medical bills to attorney fees and lost wages, "the financial implications after a violent event in the workplace can be staggering," said Loretta L. Worters, vice president of the Insurance Information Institute.

"As a result, insurers offer employers workplace safety policies to cover such incidents," she said. "Premiums range from $3,000 to $10,000 per year."

The most common sites of workplace violence are service businesses, not factories, she said: Government facilities account for 17 percent; restaurants and bars, 15 percent; schools, 15 percent; and medical facilities, 10 percent.

The insurance institute suggests a host of methods to prevent workplace violence, including guidelines for behavior and counseling for troubled employees.

Jeffrey Slotnick, chief security officer for OR3M who helped write the industry's workplace violence standard, said there are typically indicators of violence beforehand.

Someone may behave differently, showing sadness, depression, threats, menacing or aggressive behavior, or making reference to weaponry, for example.

When those behaviors come in clusters, it should be reported for the company's crisis management team to offer counseling or other assistance, he said.

Douglas Duerr, an Atlanta attorney specializing in labor and employment at Elarbee Thompson, also said there are limits to what security can do to prevent workplace violence.

"It would be great if you could have airport security at your work site, but that's simply not practical," Duerr said. "It's not realistic to expect that you're going to be able to prevent every instance of somebody coming into the workplace who's heavily armed.

"The thing to do is to have training on what are the potential indicators of someone who might become violent."

FedEx has a workplace violence prevention program, aimed at increasing awareness of "developing situations and other indicators of workplace violence."

Terri Howard, senior director at FEI Behavioral Health, a crisis management company that provides employee assistance programs and other services for businesses and employees, said employers should consider what they would have done in FedEx's situation, and incorporate lessons learned.

"At the end of the day, we can't always prevent incidents from happening," Howard said. "Sometimes, these incidents are random. Sometimes issues of domestic violence spill into the workplace."

Business security a balance of risk, cost 05/15/14 [Last modified: Thursday, May 15, 2014 10:03am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Tribune News Service.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Study: Tampa Bay a top market for homebuyers on the move

    Real Estate

    The Tampa Bay area is among the top markets for homebuyers who are likely to move in the next few months, ATTOM Data Solutions says.

    The Tampa Bay area is among the top markets for homebuyers who are likely to move in the next few months, a survey found.
[Associated Press file photo]
  2. Ousted to political Siberia by Corcoran, Kathleen Peters sets sights on Pinellas Commission

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The perks of power in Tallahassee are a coveted chairmanship, a Capitol office in a prime location and a prominent seat on the House floor. Now Rep. Kathleen Peters has lost all three, but here's the twist: Her trip to "Siberia" might actually help her reach the next step on the Tampa Bay political …

    Rep. Kathleen Peters, R-South Pasadena, has been relegated to the back row in the State House chamber, moved to a fouth floor office and stripped of her job as chairwoman of a House subcommittee after a series of disagreements with House Speaker Richard Corcoran. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  3. UPS relocates express operations from St. Pete-Clearwater to TIA

    Airlines

    TAMPA — United Parcel Service Inc. is switching airports for its express air operations. Beginning in October, UPS will relocate from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to Tampa International Airport.

    Beginning in October, UPS will move from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to Tampa International Airport. [Associated Press file photo]

  4. Richard Corcoran takes aim at public financing of campaigns

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, may not be running for governor — not yet anyway — but his latest idea will get the attention of those who are.

    House Speaker Richard Corcoran wants the Constitu?tion Revision Commis?sion to ask voters to repeal the state’s system of partial financing of statewide elections.
  5. Related Group breaks ground on complex at old Tampa Tribune site

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — When Miami developer Jorge Perez first eyed a 4.2-acre tract on the west bank of the Hillsborough River two years ago, people asked him if he wouldn't prefer to build on the opposite side closer to the downtown core.

    No way.

    From left, Related Group executive associate Arturo Penaa, Jorge Perez, center, founder and CEO of the Related Group, Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Steve Patterson, the President of Related Development dig their shovels  during the groundbreaking ceremony of the 400 unit Riverwalk Manor apartment complex on site of the old Tampa Tribune building on Wednesday. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]