1948 years ago in AD 63 an earthquake in southern Italy by the gulf of Naples seriously damaged the ancient city of Pompeii causing an undetermined number of deaths and spread out destruction, but the locals went to work rebuilding in the same spot until they were buried by the eruption of the Vesuvius volcano 16 years later in AD 79.
Galveston TX Hurricanes
Average Brushed or hit every 2.94 years Average Direct hit every 8.63 years
The Great Storm of 1900 - Sep 8th 1900 - Pop: 42,000 residents Category 4 @ 135 mph -Great loss of life between 6,000 and 12,000 individuals – officially 8,000
The 1915 Storm, August 17th, Category 4 @ 135 mph 42 people dead in the Galveston area
$60 - 1915 million dollars in damage
Ike Sep 13th 2008 - The third most destructive hurricane to ever make landfall in the United States Final landfall in Galveston Texas as a strong cat 2 with cat 5 equivalent storm surge winds extended 120 miles from the center.
Blamed for at least 195 deaths – 74 in Haiti and 112 in the USA 300 still missing. - Damages estimated at 24 billion (2008) US Dollars
Resulted in the largest evacuation in the state of Texas history and the largest search and rescue operation in US history
Chernobyl, An Experiment Gone Wrong
On Saturday, April 26th, 1986 at 1:23 am, one of the reactors at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded. Ironically, the experiment consisted in testing how the power plant would respond in the event of an accident. The operators at the plant wanted to bring down the power output of the reactor to 25%, but over-confidence, poor training and poor knowledge of how a reactor works caused them to overdo it, and they ended up bringing down the power output to 1%. When they then tried to bring it up to 25%, the reactor overheated and exploded causing the worst nuclear accident in history.
As we are the unfortunate recipients of bad news coverage these days characterizing the regretable realities of the workplace and economic times, we must not be quick to judge the misfortunes of others. The recent events of Binghamton, New York, the Pittsburg, PA Shooting of 4 police officers or the South Carolina Nursing home rampage have all served to raise concern over how horrific situations like these can occur in our society today.
In each of these situations it appears that the triggers were tied to a workplace or business connection. We must come to grips with the fact that people are victims of changes in their family, medical, personal and workplace relationships that are realities of life. However, how we effectively or ineffectively choose to deal with these issues often times dictates the outcome. Not rushing to any conclusions on any of the above, there have to be questions on contributing at risk behaviors that need to be addressed. We must not allow the permissive environment to continue as business as usual. Instead, we must ask, How could this happen? What did we miss that could have prevented the outcome. Were we careful, considerate and attentive along the way? I do not have the answer but would ask that you begin a process now that helps to evaluate your workplace situations to show you how at risk you might be. Why wait to answer such questions tomorrow when through proper documentation one can take a proactive and positive step going forward that will allow you to see just how valuable the critical vulnerability assessment can be?
Putting the threat of workplace violence prevention in perspective is important in knowing that the number of such horrific workplace related events are infrequent in comparison to the external threats employees face daily. I will not scare you with statistics at this point. However, we know by all accounts that these situations attract the kinds of negative focus I intend to avoid by this continued discussion. It is my opinion that personnel security and human relations security have an umbilical connection in helping to arrive at workplace safety and security solutions. However, the research shows that employers dedicate limited resources for a variety of reasons that I suspect might be a lack of technical competency discussion rather than a lack of will or desire.
(1) Denial in terms of we do not have a problem;
(2) It is resource intensive;
(3) Why invest in prevention when we can terminate;
(4) Time is of the essence;
(5) We lack the technical competency;
(6) The cost of hiring the consultant is unnecessary.
These reasons however real or tangible have been chronicled in surveys conducted by the Department of Labor, American Society of Safety Engineers, ASIS, Pinkerton and a host of other lesser-known organizations. Each of the surveys point to a sense of urgency on the topic of workplace violence prevention but a confusing response that illustrates a misunderstanding of what consitutes incidents of workplace violence and how to deploy the resources. All these surveys ad studies lead to doing something is better than doing nothing. Contrary to the commonly held beliefs by most that the topic of workplace violence does not affect my business and as such, it is not my problem could not be further from the truth. As shown in the studies Workplace Violence continues to be the number one business security threat facing the workplace today followed by Business Continuity/Business Interruption, Terrorism and Computer Crimes.
Dr. Robert F. Hester in article entitled: Business Continuity for Small Businesses said, “Safety, security and preparedness aren't routinely a focus in our lives. Being on guard is not something Americans are used to or like doing. Still danger and the threat never goes away; only fades in memory." Is he in fact saying that our workplace security policies are like what we see in the African Plains where the Antelopes and the hungry Lions play this cat and mouse game? The Antelope senses, hears and sees the Lions attacking, they run for their lives only to return to grazing after the hungry Lions are feasting? Is that the mentality that drives the workplace security decision process? I do not think so but it makes me wonder what does.