Monday, June 05, 2000

DAILY GRIND


Violence becomes job worry

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        Drake Center officials never worry about filling the room when the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation schedules a seminar on violence in the workplace.

        The session is always standing room only and ranks ahead of topics such as office ergonomics and drugs in the workplace as a draw.

        In fact, interest in the center's two-hour workplace violence program is so intense that in the past two years, it has been offered four times — a record for any topic.

        But the violence usually discussed at the session is far from the gun-toting image created by media coverage of violent workplace incidents throughout the nation.

        “It isn't just that somebody walks in with a gun,” said Kathy Young, business development specialist for Drake Center. “Usually, it's somebody has a really bad day at home and comes into work and just becomes violent.

        “The workplace happens to be the setting. They leave home and maybe had a fight with their wife, or the spouse finds out her husband is having an affair and comes into the workplace and starts throwing things.

        “That's the real issue.” But it is not the only issue.

        Greater Cincinnati companies and workers are not immune from gunplay as companies are finding that shootings do not necessarily happen only at far-flung places, such as a Wendy's Restaurant in New York City.

Shooting incidents
        Though rare, shooting incidents in the workplace do occur in Greater Cincinnati.

        In March, Michael D. Pardon, 26, entered the rear of the Digitron Inc. at 300 Conover Drive, just off Ohio 73 in northern Warren County, about 5:30 p.m. on a Friday afternoon.

        Police said he shot a .380-caliber semiautomatic pistol and killed his wife, Shirley A. Pardon, 39, then wounded her brother, James D. Allen, 36, before Mr. Pardon was subdued by other employees. Authorities said the shooting at the machine shop followed a domestic dispute between the gunman and his wife.

        Mr. Pardon, who lived with his wife in Franklin, was charged with aggravated murder, attempted murder and aggravated assault.

        A recent Washington Post-ABC News survey, with results accurate to within 3 percentage points, found that nearly one in four Americans say they have been threatened with a gun, though not necessarily at work. About 45 percent of the random sample of 1,068 adults said a firearm was in their home.

        Though workplace shootings capture the media's attention, it is the smaller, less dangerous incidents that rivet most workers and bosses, Ms. Young said.

Raising awareness
        Officials estimate that more than a million violent episodes occur each year at companies across the United States.

        The seminar Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Drake Center, 151 W. Galbraith Rd., will offer employers strategies to determine when an individual's short fuse could lead to a workplace explosion. Reservations can be made by contacting the center at 948-5985.

        “People take an awareness away from this seminar. They take a reality away, and they take away the seriousness of this issue,” Ms. Young said. “Anybody at any given moment is capable of exploding.”

        John Eckberg can be reached at jeckberg@enquirer.com or (513) 768-8386.

       



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