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WORKPLACE VIOLENCE: 25 Red Flags

The following is a list of 25 red flag issues that may indicate increased potential for violence, however, this is not intended to be a comprehensive list.

This information must be evaluated in combination with various other factors known about the person, including criminal history, various public records, personal behaviors, bizarre statements, and threats made (if any). Threat risk assessments should be made by security specialists, law enforcement agency, and psychologists with specific experience in assessing workplace violence.

The following items in various combinations are often red flags regarding characteristic behaviors of potentially violent and threatening employees:

25 Red Flags for Workplace Violence:

  1. History of violence (including domestic violence)
  2. Bullying & intimidating behavior
  3. Emotionally unstable
  4. Exhibit paranoia about what co-workers may think of them
  5. Have mentioned they have stopped taking medications for personality disorders
  6. Expressed interest in weapons (Note; all weapons should be taken seriously including high velocity archery sets, guns, knives, glass, etc.)
  7. High degree of interest in military, law enforcement & other groups (may include hate groups & survivalist groups)
  8. Verbalized approval of prior violent or aggressive incidents by others
  9. Frequently blaming others for their issues
  10. Deteriorating work habits
  11. Increasing or escalating performance issues
  12. Escalating distraction & nervousness
  13. Poor personal hygiene
  14. Financially pressured and/ or high personal stress: recent death, in a messy divorce or child-custody battle, home foreclosure, etc.
  15. Prior issues with law enforcement (include all relevant issues)
  16. “Loner” behavior (socially self-isolating)
  17. Force their beliefs on others; spreading rumors/ gossip to elevate their own position
  18. Argumentative, unreasonable & disparaging behavior
  19. Constantly protesting about their boss/ the company/ filing multiple claims of unfair treatment
  20. Makes verbal or written threats:
    1. Direct threats: “I’m going to kill you at work in front of your friends”.
    2. Veiled threats: “I’ll get him someday”, “I know where you take your kids to school”, “I know where you jog every morning”
  21. Addiction behaviors: alcohol, drugs (street or prescribed), obsessive romance
  22. Harassing others regularly or frequently
  23. Lack basic people skills
  24. Say they feel hopeless often
  25. Wants to bring a briefcase or purse into exit interview & will not voluntarily part with the item.
The level of threat and risk needs to be carefully evaluated.  Remember: there are always, always warning signs of workplace violence; most of these are overlooked, ignored or under-reported by co-workers and managers.  When a threat situation is escalating, this is precisely the time to take preventive action to protect the people working at or visiting your company.

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