Due to the volume and variety of threats to people and property in the workplace, developing a company campus security strategy that addresses every potential eventuality is impossible. However, by implementing a simple-to-use phone app, companies can better understand the threats and better defend against them.
If your company campus security team were to conduct a risk assessment, what eventualities would present the biggest threats to the people and property on your company campus? Most companies will answer this question differently because of the nature of their operations, and factors such as their locations and the systems put in place to defend against threats they have already identified.
However, two answers that would likely appear less often than is justified are “active assailants” and “insider theft”. This is because the two events are significantly underreported, resulting in a misperception of their frequency and a failure to adequately defend against them. Yet, between the events, they can have a greater impact on a company than almost any other eventuality.
Active Assailants Don't Have to Carry Guns
An active assailant is defined as a person with premeditated and malicious intent to kill or cause bodily harm - not necessarily with a gun. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (PDF), there were 733 workplace homicides in 2017 attributable to an active assailant, but only 351 of those involved guns. These figures give a far more accurate picture of the threat of active assailants than figures produced by the FBI (who recorded ten shootings in business premises in 2017), but they don't tell the whole story.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics also compiles reports each year relating to the number of employees suffering non-fatal injuries to “violence by persons or animals”, but this is not a reliable source of active assailant activity as it is survey-based. For example, according to the latest report (2017), the incidence rate of non-fatal injuries attributable to active assailants in the workplace was 7.1 per 100,000 full-time employees. As there are 132 million full time employees in the U.S., this would imply 9,372 attacks.
Active Assailant Events are Grossly Underreported
However, when compared with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' data on non-fatal injuries from workplace violence for healthcare workers (2014), there is a massive discrepancy. The Department of Health and Human Services recorded nearly seventeen thousand incidents that year; and, as the healthcare industry accounts for around 12 percent of the nation's workforce, it could be claimed the true number of active assailant events each year is closer to 140,000.
Admittedly, there is a higher frequency of workplace violence against healthcare workers than any other category of employees, but the calculation of 140,000 non-fatal injuries attributable to workplace active assailants is based on “recorded” incidents. Due to rampant underreporting of workplace injuries in the healthcare sector, the actual number could be much higher.
Malicious Insiders can do More Harm than External Actors
Our blog lists the five main types of workplace violence; and in three of the five types, there is a strong likelihood that the assailant is known to their victim - either as a client, a colleague, or someone with whom they have a personal relationship. In all cases of insider theft, the perpetrator is known to colleagues, and is likely displaying tell-take signs of their malicious activities - activities that can do more harm than external actors' malicious activities because of the insider's knowledge of internal systems.
Most articles discussing the harm that can be done by malicious insiders focus on data theft and cybersecurity - indeed, in one survey 45 percent of respondents saw employees as the main threat to cloud security. But data theft is not the only target of malicious insiders. Many can falsify paper documents in order to cover up the theft of cash or goods (i.e. pharmaceuticals), while other may steal confidential company information they can monetize by taking it to a competitor.
Identifying Potential Workplace Active Assailants and Malicious Insiders
Estimates of how much workplace violence costs U.S. industry vary, but some industry experts believe companies are losing up to $121 billion annually. Similarly, nobody really knows the cost of insider theft, with one guesstimate suggesting companies are losing up to $40 billion per year due to employee theft and fraud. Yet many of these losses are avoidable. Either an active assailant is known to the victim and has displayed signs of unusual behavior, or a malicious insider is displaying one or more of the following characteristics:
Work colleagues often see these signs of unusual behavior or characteristics in the workplace, but fail to bring them to anyone's attention until after the event. In her article “7 Reasons Employees Don't Report Workplace Violence” Carol Fredrickson attributes the failure to report colleagues' unusual behaviors to:
- Fear of retaliation
- Fear of becoming the office “snitch”
- Fear of a grievance or lawsuit
- Fear of a negative reaction
- The assumption the unusual behavior will “blow over”
- A lack of company procedures
- A lack of training
A solution to overcome the reluctance to report colleagues' unusual behaviors and workplace violence when it happens is an anonymous tip texting app. This easy-to-use app makes employees' data anonymous so the company campus security team receive intelligence it can act on, but doesn't know its origins. It can use the intelligence to investigate potential workplace active assailants and malicious insiders in order to prevent workplace violence and insider theft before it occurs.
Find Out More about Anonymous Tip Texting Technology
Anonymous tip texting technology won't help your company campus security team prevent threats such as severe weather events or chemical spills (there's no technology that can prevent a hurricane), but these are comparatively rare events compared to active assailants and malicious insiders. Furthermore, there a number of excellent mass notification tools that can warn employees to the risk of danger and mitigate the consequences of such events.
For most company campus security teams, the biggest threats are those which they are unaware of, that don't go reported, and that they lack visibility into. Companies can help their security teams - and engage all employees with a responsibility for campus safety - by distributing anonymous tip texting apps throughout the workforce. These systems do not cost very much to implement, and if they prevent one active assailant or insider theft, they will have already paid for themselves.
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