Not too long ago, if someone wanted to visit you at work they would show up at your business, head down the hall and walk into your office.

And if you needed to talk to a colleague face-to-face, you would simply walk to where they were working in the building.

But with the rising threat of workplace violence, that is no longer the case at most New Jersey businesses.

Michele Siekerka, president of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, said businesses are doing more to beef up security by installing video surveillance, alarm systems, extra lighting and requiring ID badges and sign-in sheets for visitors. Some companies, depending on their size and nature of their business, may even have armed security guards.

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, workplace shootings in America take at least 300 lives a year.

Siekerka said the mantra for most companies in New Jersey is always be prepared for a problem.

“We have to be really in tune with the fact that threats about workplace safety can come from both inside the building and outside the building," she said about the new normal.

She said as part of an effort to deal with employee anger and rage before it erupts, many companies are requiring all workers to get specific training about “what does it look like when an employee is becoming maybe aggressive, or on the fringe of becoming over-stressed, that their blood is about to boil and they’re going to become someone who they usually aren’t.”

Siekerka said with added importance these days on inclusion and diversity, employee support groups can also help workers talk things out and relieve stress before things spiral out of control.

And employee wellness programs also help with anxiety.

The bottom line, said Siekerka, is that workplace security has to be a team effort.

“If you’re walking through the building and you see a stranger, don’t just assume they should be there. Ask them who are you here to see," she said. “Unfortunately, in today’s day in age, there should be really, really strong emergency response plans and practice drills for onsite violence, such as an intruder alert or an active shooter.”

You can contact reporter David Matthau at

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