Just as no person is immune to becoming a victim of violence, no place is exempt from being the venue.
A workplace can quickly become a crime scene, as seen in an incident at Sewon America Inc. earlier this week. A history of tension and an apparent misunderstanding drove one employee to cut another man with a box cutter in the break room of the business, located at 1000 Sewon Blvd. Jessie Parks, 49, of Hogansville was arrested and charged with aggravated assault, while his 22-year-old co-worker was taken to the hospital for lacerations to his leg and side.
Another man was arrested and charged with simple battery after employees witnessed him grab a cell phone from a woman working at Duracell at 1567 Lukken Industrial Drive in July. He twisted her hand and threatened to break her finger, a police report said.
Workplace violence includes the act or threat of violence against workers, and usually escalates over time, police officials said. It can occur outside the workplace and ranges from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and homicide, one of the leading causes of job-related deaths.
“Every incident needs to be reported,” LaGrange Police Sgt. Marshall McCoy said. “No case should be taken lightly because you don’t know the extent of it.”
Approximately 2 million Americans are victims of workplace violence each year, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
The first step to prevent workplace violence is to be familiar with company policy and take all threats seriously. Most investigations show that there were signs leading up to the incident, and often, someone who ignored them.
“Normally, you find that people had knowledge of a dispute or some type of problem,” McCoy said. “People tend to have the mindset that it isn’t there business and they shouldn’t interfere.”
Witnesses to workplace violence should report it to a supervisor or law enforcement before taking matters into their own hands.
“You don’t want to become part of the problem,” McCoy said. “Unless it is life threatening or something you could interfere in, call for help first.”
No one is immune to violence at work, but some people are at a higher risk than others. Among them are workers who exchange money with the public, deliver passengers, goods or services, and those who work alone, during late or morning hours or in high-crime areas, according to the OSHA website.
These groups include health care and social service workers such as visiting nurses, psychiatric evaluators and probation officers; community workers such as gas and water employees, phone and cable installers and letter carriers; or retail workers and taxi drivers.
Anyone with information about workplace violence should contact the LaGrange Police Department at 706-883-2603.