Expert: Noticing warning signs helps prevent workplace violence

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FLINT TWP (WJRT) - (12/03/15) - Preventing a mass shooting may come down to noticing warning signs and reaching out for help - before violence erupts.

Human resources experts in Mid-Michigan say that starts with education and training.

"People are under pressure, and we're moving to a situation where things are less tolerable for people," said Vanessa Nelson, a certified professional in the human resources industry. "They really get upset when things don't exactly work the way they think they should, and they bring things to work. There's domestic violence going on - there's things at home that are happening that cause people to act in certain ways, and all these things are brought to the work place."

Nelson is president of Expert Human Resources in Flint Township. More and more businesses are coming to her seeking workplace violence training so they can detect problems before an individual or others are hurt.

Nelson said every company should have a well defined zero tolerance policy when it comes to violence, and managers and supervisors should be properly trained in spotting troubled behavior.

She said it's also important for businesses to have an employee assistance program. That gives trained professionals, like counselors, the ability to intervene and offer services related to violence - even drug and alcohol abuse.

Nelson stresses that every employee plays a role in having a healthy work environment.

"Some of the warning signs are the person could display a controlling type of behavior and again they could be isolated. They may feel a paranoia where people are picking on them," Nelson said. "They could have obsessive behavior - a need for power. Pay attention to those things - and not only pay attention - do something."

Nelson said having a plan and resources in place isn't 100 percent protection, but it can help defuse many situations.

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