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Experts talk workplace violence and safety

WDBJ reporter, Alison Parker, and photographer, Adam Ward, are two out of five journalists in the past 15 years who have been murdered while on the job. Their suspected killer was fired a couple of years ago from WDBJ.

“So, often these people that commit to violence, they feel like it’s hopeless, they don’t have any other avenues they that can pursue. No one wants to listen to them,” said security expert, Paul Fennelwald.

The most recent workplace statistics from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries show in 2010 there were 518 workplace homicides — shootings accounted for 405 of them.

“It’s important for employers to be cognizant that they potentially can become a victim of workplace violence and take the necessary steps to reduce that risk,” said Detective Tom O’Sullivan with Boone County Sheriff’s Department.

Security experts said employers can’t prevent every instance of workplace violence, but creating a welcoming culture could help.

Experts said a disgruntled employee who ultimately murders a coworker many times will act out in other ways first.

“They’re going to maybe talk to coworkers as they’re being terminated. They’re going to be talking to be talking to family or neighbors or things like that — Quit often. Unfortunately, there’s been a lot of incidences where we’ve missed those signs,” said Fennelwald.

Security experts said it’s better to error on the side of caution with disgruntled employees. They said don’t ignore a coworker who makes violent statements — mention it to a manger.

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