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Violence in the workplace has unfortunately been thrust into the spotlight recently more than we care to imagine.  Events such as the Capitol Hill shooting, the shooting at the  Washington, D.C. Navy Yard and a shooting near Roosevelt Field in New York by a disgruntled former employee remind us that safety at work can sometimes be a serious issue.

A recent poll by Zogby Analytics found that 42 percent of employees have reported that there is no entrance security at their place of employment. This means that anyone may enter the work premises without proof of identification or security screening. Despite this percentage, 94 percent of employees polled stated that they felt safe at their workplace, even with the lack of security. However, 19 percent of workers polled did feel that their workplace security was inadequate.

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With so many instances of deadly force and violence taking place at work, how are companies mitigating this issue?

“Companies are turning a blind eye to serious threats of violence,” said Frank Kenna III, president of workplace signage maker Marlin Company, which commissioned the survey. “It’s almost a cliche that everyone says they feel safe until someone who is after money, drugs, domestic revenge or who is grossly impaired comes in, perhaps with a weapon, and causes a tragedy.”

Based upon a recent American Express openforum.com article, here are five tips employers can use to strengthen safety and security in the workplace:

1) Monitor and prevent strangers from walking in the door.

2) Be on the lookout for employees who seem disgruntled or may be experiencing emotional or psychological turmoil that could spill into the workplace.

3) Reach out to emotionally distressed employees and encourage them to get professional help.

4) Create guidelines for how to reach out to disgruntled or emotionally distressed employees.

5) Ask employees to report any concerns about colleagues.

Have you ever experienced violence at work? How did you handle it?

Rashida Maples, Esq. is Founder and Managing Partner of J. Maples & Associates (www.jmaplesandassociates.com). She has practiced Entertainment, Real Estate and Small Business Law for 9 years, handling both transactional and litigation matters. Her clients include R&B Artists Bilal and Olivia, NFL Superstar Ray Lewis, Fashion Powerhouse Harlem’s Fashion Row and Hirschfeld Properties, LLC.

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