This column will address the increasingly important subject of crime in the workplace. A review of news headlines across Canada on any given day shows the sheer prevalence and harmful impact of work-related crime. Organizations have a moral and legal obligation to understand the crime threats they face and to take diligent steps in managing crime and security risks.
A growing body of research suggests that serious acts of workplace violence are frequently precipitated by “warning signs” (i.e., less serious incidents and/or observable “behaviours of concern”). Perhaps the most famous example in the cultural consciousness is the continuing signs of mental instability exhibited by Seung Hui Cho for a number of months prior to perpetrating the mass shooting at Virginia Polytechnic Institute (“Virginia Tech”) in April, 2007.
Ontario's recently enacted workplace violence amendment places a legal onus on provincially regulated employers to safeguard employees from the risk of domestic violence in the workplace. Additional jurisdictions are likely to follow suit. In legal terms, domestic violence is increasingly becoming a foreseeable workplace risk. In moral terms, inaction on this growing workplace issue would introduce unacceptable human risk.