On May 31, 2019, DeWayne Craddock, 40, resigned his job in the morning, then came back in the afternoon and shot dead 11 fellow co-workers and a visiting contractor at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center where Craddock had worked for 15 years. Craddock’s victims were both male and female, black and white. Four more workers were injured during the shooting.
Craddock, an African-American and public utility engineer, had cited personal reasons for quitting when his boss questioned him about the resignation email Craddock had sent that morning. Craddock’s boss, Richard H. Nettleton, was among those killed later that afternoon.
While initial news reports indicated no reason for why Craddock would have committed such a crime, a later report by the New York Post stated that Craddock, allegedly, had been having problems on the job with other co-workers. No explanation of what that trouble had been, was ever given, and the information came from an unidentified source. In 2017, Craddock had also gone through a divorce, as well.
In Virginia, there have been 82 workplace homicides between the years 2011 and 2017, not counting the Craddock story above. There were 500 workplace homicides across the United States during 2016, with 80 percent caused by firearms. In 2015, nine percent of all workplace fatalities were tied to violence on the job.
Yet, other weapons have been used in these incidents, such as machetes, knives, crowbars, and other weapons. The reality is that if someone means to harm others, they will use whatever is at hand, including vehicles, and homemade bombs.
There are some basic procedures recommended by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that can be instituted to avoid incidents of workplace violence. Any business should review its operation and look closely at any areas that could be shored up in the following ways. These are some random tips for employers to consider.
A company’s standard operating procedures (SOP) handbook should clearly state that violence against other workers will not be tolerated (zero-tolerance policy), and when it is clearly shown who is at fault, that worker will be fired. This also includes supervisors and other management personnel. Each business will have its own set of unique circumstances that can be further explored on ways to protect employees.
Most businesses require that an employee who resigns the job, or is fired, is escorted out of the building, and not allowed back in. The identity card also is given back to the employer when the employee resigns or is fired.
As OSHA states on its website, not all acts of workplace violence are reported (up to 25 percent), suggesting that many incidents of workplace violence are handled internally, so long as there are no severe injuries. Those cases where employees are severely injured or killed on the job must obviously be reported.
Ultimately, employers and employees must remain vigilant in monitoring their surroundings and reporting any possible cases of violence, especially if it looks like it could escalate.
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