July 15, 2014 3:51 pm
Updated: July 15, 2014 5:39 pm

Workplace attacks: tips to keep staff safe

Edmonton police respond to weapons complaint on Stony Plain Road July 14, 2014

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EDMONTON – Have a security plan in place and trust your instincts. Those are two tips from Alberta security advisor Neil LeMay.

On Monday, police say a man working at a property management office was slashed across the neck by another man they believe was upset about a property he was renting.

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READ MORE: Police respond to weapons complaint on Stony Plain Road 

After an initial argument, the suspect left the building. At that time, the employees were sent home and the doors were locked.

“The actions of that supervisor probably prevented it from being a more tragic incident,” said LeMay.

“Whatever transaction took place with the aggressor in that building in the first meeting … was enough to create some concern,” he explained. “The fact that they sent the employees home clearly demonstrates that they had the interests and security and safety of the employees above and over those business concerns.

“In this case, I think that action probably saved a lot of people’s lives.”

On Tuesday, a 62-year-old man was charged with several offences in connection to the incident, including attempted murder.

Have safety protocol in place

LeMay stresses that a violence prevention assessment is not only required by Alberta law, having a plan laid out is paramount to keeping people safe.

“You need to have policy. You need to have some procedures in place. It’s very important that you do some training and drills so that your staff knows what to do.”

“I think this type of an event is a reminder that they need to take this seriously and put some basic procedures in place.”

Watch for warning signs

While violent incidents can escalate very quickly, LeMay says people should always be on the lookout for possible indicators.

“We recommend that at least employers and supervisors be aware of what the potential dangers are, be aware of what the red flags and warning signs are, whether it’s from an employee or a client or customer,” he said. “And, that when they do start to see a cluster of behaviours or a pattern of behaviours of concern, that they seek out some professional assistance.”

Create barriers for aggressor(s)

If an unexpected violent situation comes up, LeMay suggests putting barriers between yourself, your staff, and the aggressor.

For instance, in the July 14 Edmonton case, he says locking the doors was a smart decision.

“You want to buy yourself some time.

“You want to create barriers in place that allow the police to get there and delay the suspect from getting access to individuals that they can harm.”

LeMay believes having a safe room with a solid core door on site is another way to increase safety.

Trust your gut

LeMay, who worked with the RCMP for 27 years and was a homicide detective for a decade, says it’s important to trust your instincts.

“We have a tendency as individuals to overrule our gut with our head.”

“That intuition, that gut feeling – that ‘spidey sense’ we get when the hairs stand up on the back of our neck – we need to pay attention to that.”

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