Q: An incident recently occurred in a small town in Oklahoma which resulted in a horrific beheading of an employee by a disgruntled fired employee. As a Plant Manager of a food processing facility, what are my responsibilities to prevent a situation like this?
A: This is a difficult but very timely question. Let's start with some background on the incident as reported. The employee, who recently had converted to Islam and had tried to convert other plant employees, was fired from his job for reasons not made public. He then exited the facility, drove to another part of the facility and entered an office where he allegedly committed the act. He also repeatedly stabbed another employee and was shot while doing this.
This issue is clearly one of plant security. Many companies skirt this topic for a myriad of reasons including: “Putting up fences goes against our culture, we trust our people”; “We are located out here in the middle of nowhere; why would we need it?”; “We make food, we don't need to be as secure as Fort Knox”; “This is a lot of expense; what could possibly happen?” All of these reasons seem quite trivial when you have to sit with the family of someone who has lost their life in a work place.