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Illinois Workplace Violence

Posted by Tamara

Several recent incidents of violence in the workplace in Illinois and elsewhere may have increased the public’s awareness of workplace violence. These cases were high profile and ended in tragedy.

One of these incidents occurred in Orlando, Florida, in a Denny’s restaurant on International Drive. Several families had just left Disney World and witnessed a man stab one of the Denny’s waitresses. Customers and other employees chased the man until he escaped by jumping a fence. He left his shoes and the bloody knife behind. The 40 year old waitress was his estranged wife, who died from her wounds. Paramedics tried to save her, but despite their best efforts, her injuries were too severe.

Another incident, the Virginia Tech Massacre, also ended in tragedy, and shocked the public. A student armed himself with “enough ammo to start a war” and a semi-automatic weapon, and proceeded to kill 32 students and staff. The students and staff were unable to escape the student, Seung Hui Cho, because he had chained the campus building’s doors shut. He continued on his shooting spree and wounded 17 others then turned the weapon on himself. Upon further investigation, two more students were found dead in their dorm room. Cho had shot them prior to his campus shooting spree.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Cho has exhibited behavior with OSHA considers warning signs of violence. Cho fixated on women he barely knew, displayed stalking behavior and disproportional jealousy. He also had a history of untreated mental health problems.

The U.S. Department of Labor reports that despite these tragedies, incidents of workplace violence in Illinois and in the rest of America are on a downward slide. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) confirms that incidents of workplace homicides decreased from 792 in 2005 to 754 in 2006.

OSHA also reports that the incidents in 2006 were the lowest reported since the BLS started keeping track of violence in the workplace. In addition, BLS reports that the 2006 rate was only half of 1994’s reported incidents, the highest number of violent incidents ever reported.

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