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Is He The Next One? What To Do If You Think The Person Sitting In A Cubicle Near You Could Be The Next Aaron Alexis

9.20.13

The Washington Business Journal interviewed Ed Foulke for the article “Is He The Next One? What To Do If You Think The Person Sitting In A Cubicle Near You Could Be The Next Aaron Alexis.”

The article noted that recent tragic events at the Washington Navy Yard may have left everyone wondering how to spot a colleague headed down a violent path and what — if anything — we can do about it. 

Ed, who was the former head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) under President George W. Bush, said that if an employee comes to you with a complaint or concern, it should never be taken lightly.

A sense of social isolation is at the core of many violence-prone workers and that feeling may get worse if a worker feels neglected or dismissed. 

He added that a widely publicized, zero-tolerance policy on violence, threats and harassment is crucial. “If you give an inch on violence, you’ve given it all.

I wouldn’t go on a plane and say, ‘I’ve got a bomb.’ Same token if someone says, ‘I could kill everyone here,’ take it seriously,” he said.  

He also noted that solutions aren’t always found in formal policies, stressing that one of the best deterrents could be shifting the office away from the “need to know” philosophy that may prevent employees from involving themselves in co-workers’ problems or volunteering anything to management.  

A culture that allows bosses to speak frankly with workers and that encourages workers to take ownership for their peers’ health can go a long way.

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