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followed by statements from co-workers saying that they didn't take the
worker's threatened violence seriously or that they misjudged the degree
of the anger. This is the moment in time to make formal reports to the
police or to company security so that action can be taken to protect other
Level 4. Actual threats are made to those directly involved in the
worker's obsessional system, or they may be made to anyone who is han-
dy. The worker's anger is now increasingly more difficult to control since
they have made a decision to confront others as a release for intense feel-
ings of anger at the organization and they have clearly lost control. Co-
workers begin to complain to superiors who often do nothing to control
the behavior or who may terminate the worker without necessary profes-
sional help or police involvement. The worker, at level 4, is now ready to
commit an act of violence. In almost all cases of workplace violence,
supervisors, personnel departments, and union stewards were forewarned
about problematic employees but did nothing to ensure that help would
be given or that the problem would be resolved. When threats are made,
it may be necessary to bring in the police and to file charges against a vio-
lent employee. While this may end in a trial or in a prison sentence, it
may also end in mandatory treatment and the safety of innocent people.
Level 5. The worker acts out his or her obsessional system and com-
mits violent acts on the job. When workers say that they are going to kill
someone or commit an act of violence to co-workers, take it seriously.
Threats are more than words. They are acts about to take place and are
often the worker's unconscious attempt to have the act stopped. When a
threat is made and nothing constructive is done to help the worker, vio-
lence is very likely to follow. The violence may be directed at specific
people but more often than not, it is random and affects people who have
nothing to do with the worker's grievances against the organization.
It should not surprise us that many workers move to level 5 in the
development of violence. Far too many managers and supervisors
worry about lawsuits or union actions if they intervene and may with-
draw from the issue when violent behavior begins to show itself. Nor
should it surprise us if workers show none of the levels noted above
and act-out without seeming provocation. These are the anomalies of
the workplace and the individual workers within the workplace. By
and large, however, workers give advanced notice of potentially dan-
gerous behavior. When that behavior is dealt with badly by organiza-
tions, violence is likely to result.
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