Conflict is a fact of life in any workplace. Most of us learn to work through it, peacefully and constructively. But when you factor an unstable personality into the equation, it can be a recipe for dangerous behavior.
Take for instance Wesley Higdon, a press operator who murdered his supervisor and four co-workers at a Kentucky plastics factory in 2008. The trigger? Higdon reportedly had been reprimanded for not wearing his safety goggles and for using his cellphone on the job.
Of the 4,383 workers who died on the job last year, 767 were the victims of workplace violence, according to preliminary 2012 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That number includes 463 homicides and 225 suicides.
During a breakout session at the 2013 America's Safest Companies Conference in Atlanta, experts urged employers to develop policies and procedures that address workplace violence, terrorist attacks and catastrophic accidents - and sticking to them.
"When we talk about policies and procedures, these are the rules," said Steve Davis, president and CEO of the risk-management consulting firm GRM Inc. "They must be published. They must be trained. And they must be uniformly applied. If you miss one of those three, you're going to cause yourself a problem."
For more, read "ASC 2013: Workers Gone Wild – Strategies for Handling Workplace Violence and Other Threats"
in sister publication EHS Today.