Friday, February 9, 2018

"Worker slain in workplace attack..."

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration defines workplace violence “as any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site”. It ranges from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and even homicide. It can affect and involve employees, clients, customers and visitors. Homicide is currently the fourth-leading cause of fatal occupational injuries in the United States. Sadly here is a recent story:

It was shocking enough for friends and coworkers to hear of the 37 year old worker’s death. It was even more shocking to hear the person accused of killing their coworker is someone many knew to be his friend, and was actually a coworker.

The defendant was charged the following day with voluntary manslaughter, a Level 2 Felony, in worker’s death. The defendant is accused of stabbing his coworker one morning during the week of February 2, 2018 while the two were at work at an aluminium extrusion company in the United States.

The defendant fled the scene after the stabbing, but turned himself in to the local County Metro Homicide Unit later that same day. He is being held without bond in the County Jail until his initial hearing the day afternoon. The local County Prosecutor is requesting a $100,000 cash bond.

As word spread about the worker’s death and once the defendant was named as a suspect, many past and present coworkers from the aluminium extrusion company took to social media expressing their disbelief.

"Everybody is pretty shocked," one past worker said. "I can't believe this."

The social media poster worked with both the deceased worker and the defendant at the aluminium extrusion company from 2010 to 2015. The social media poster has since moved to Waco, Texas, but he said by phone that he kept in touch with the deceased worker and the defendant after he moved.

And when the social media poster did live in the area, he said, the three didn't just see each other at work. The social media poster, the defendant and the deceased got together a lot, he said.

He had been in contact with many of his former coworkers, he said, and none of them would have anticipated something like this happening between the two men. Whatever led up to the stabbing, the social media poster said, had to have been really bad.

But according to a court document, the defendant and the deceased had been conflicting over a personal issue, though exactly what it was, is not specified.

Defendant told investigators he was leaving the lunch area of aluminium extrusion company one day, walking with a noodle bowl he had just warmed up. The deceased then came up to defendant and slapped the noodle bowl out of his hands and pushed him into a wall.

That is when, defendant said, he got close to the deceased and stabbed him with a folding pocket knife. Defendant then left the building and went to a family member's home before turning himself in. A witnesses told investigators that as the defendant was leaving the building, the defendant told him "(Name removed) is leaking" and the witness should go check on him.

Security cameras backed up defendant's story of the altercation between the two men. After being stabbed, the injured worker stumbled into the lunch area where another employee was on break. That worker said he saw the injured worker covered in blood and called 911. A supervisor tried to give aid to the injured worker, but he soon died of his injures.

A manager at the aluminium extrusion company didn't return a phone call requesting comment the following day.

The worker also said he was shocked to hear the defendant reportedly stabbed his coworker. While witnesses said there had been tensions between the two, the worker thought they were still friends and he had never seen them fighting.

The social media poster said the deceased and the defendant were both "good dudes." The defendant was quiet, he said, but both men cared about going to work and providing for their families. Family was especially important to the deceased worker, the social media poster said.
"That's why this is so hard to believe," he said. "I just pray for each and every family member. This is crazy."

We too pray for the deceased worker’s family, friends, and coworkers. We are extremely sad that the deceased worker was killed, let alone killed by a coworker on the job.

We apologize for the editing of the names in the news media article. But, our goal is not to blame the worker(s) nor company but hope that this incident can be used to prevent future incidents. But how? You can use this story to teach your workers that arguments should not lead to violence. Other news media articles have quotes from coworkers that state they were aware that the two workers had a disagreement. No doubt no one expect their disagreement would escalate to a killing. But it did.

We how talk about how too often workers are together more than they are with their family. It is very common to socialize with each other outside of the workplace. Workers attend sporting events together, attend holiday parties, weddings, funerals, etc. We will bring up this incident in the future to remind the workers that disagreements between people are understandable. But, caution them that disagreements should not escalate to violence...ever. 

The Aluminium Plant Safety Blog hopes that every plant is talking to their workers about workplace violence. If you are not. Why? No one is immune from workplace violence.

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