Workplace violence more common than many think, expert says

Violence in the workplace

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The deadly shooting at a Southaven Walmart on Tuesday, which authorities say was carried out by a troubled employee, has caused many businesses to reevaluate their safety plans.

But WMC Action News 5 found out violence in the workplace is more common than many people think.

Scenes of shock and sadness outside the Walmart shook many people to their core, including Kristy Ferguson.

“I panicked because I didn’t know if someone that I knew or loved was up there because we go to Walmart all the time.”

Ferguson manages the EZ Dayz RV Park and owns Southaven Storage and does business with a lot of people.

"I've always felt very safe, but things like what happened yesterday, it does make me a little more apprehensive and it makes me want to be aware of my surroundings all the time," said Ferguson.

She's not alone.

Several business owners attended the Southaven Chamber of Commerce's active shooter training seminar Wednesday.

Southaven police showed them how to respond if or when violence visits their workplace.

But violence in the workplace happens more often than many people think.

In 2017, 458 homicides were reported at workplaces in the U.S., including 351 that stemmed from shootings, according to the U.S Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

OSHA estimates some two million people experience violence at work each year, most often at the hands of co-workers.

But experts say workplace violence is often unreported or under-reported.

“We know that it’s at least two million Americans each year, but really the true figure in somewhere north of that number,” said Kathleen Bonczyk, the executive director of the Workplace Violence Prevention Institute.

Bonczyk, who authored The Killer in the Next Cubicle, says preventing violence at work starts before someone is hired.

“Every single employee must be vetted as much as we would vet a babysitter who’s coming into our home to watch our children,” Bonczyk said.

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