AUSTIN (KXAN) — WDBJ’s general manager Jeff Marks indicated shooter Vester Flanagan was a troubled former employee and his tenure at the station included anger and complaints. Flanagan used his Twitter account to tweet grievances of racism after the shooting that killed two WDBJ journalists on Wednesday.
“He seem to have a short fuse if something didn’t go his way,” said Marks. He also revealed WDBJ called police to help the day Flanagan was fired.
While Wednesday’s shooting is among the most horrific and extreme examples of work relationships gone wrong, violence in the workplace is not uncommon according to statistics.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports nearly two million cases of workplace violence occur each year and the Department of Labor reported nearly 10 percent of all workplace deaths in 2012 were homicides. The Labor Department defines workplace violence as “any threat or act of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at a work site.”
But there is one workplace in Austin that tries to help all the others stay safe. Workplace Answers provides online training to corporations, government institutions, colleges and universities. The training focuses on harassment, violence, and other issues which could arise in an office.
“Violence is something that happens because of certain conditions in the individual,” said CEO Girish Pashilkar. Those conditions could stem from something happening in the office or at home, but Pashilkar said typically it builds over a period of time.
“In most cases, it is predictable and in most cases the reason for the violence is a few key things. The employee feels they are treated unfairly or being rejected.”
Workplace Answers recommends three things to their clients to help keep violence from occurring at work: Hire the right people, create a fair work environment, and spot early signs of trouble.
“In some cases, workplace violence involves aggressive behavior, but there are precursors,” said Pashilkar. “What we don’t want to take away from this is to be afraid. We want to train to be prepared and we can prevent these situations.”