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September 5, 1997

Incident at L&I's Longview office points up the reality of workplace violence

NOTE: The Department of Labor & Industries is releasing the following advisory in the wake of an incident at L&I's Longview service center on Wednesday. That incident left the customer service area of the office in a shambles after a man with a sledge hammer destroyed computers, office equipment and work stations. No one was injured. Damage was estimated at more than $20,000. Longview Police took a 29-year-old Longview man into custody at the scene.

"Our first and foremost concern is for the safety of our employees," declared L&I Director Gary Moore. "Thankfully, our employees knew what to do and they reacted exactly right," Moore said Wednesday after meeting with affected employees and viewing the damage.

"No one was hurt and the only damage was done to things that can be fixed," he said. "And we are all extremely thankful and grateful for that.

"We know that workplace violence is real and that it poses a hazard to workers, but when it hits this close to home, you get a whole new perspective and appreciation of the problem," he said. Workplace violence is a serious occupational safety hazard that is emerging in workplaces all across America.

"We train our employees. We equip our employees and we prepare our employees to deal with the hazard of workplace violence," Moore said.

Moore credited the Longview workers with staying calm and cool in the face of danger and reacting as they were trained.

"They applied their training, and that was a big factor in why no one was injured in the mid-afternoon rampage that left the office in a shambles," he said. All told, an estimated $20,000 worth of computer, telephone and other office equipment was destroyed by the hammer-wielding vandal.

Although the Longview office was closed for the remainder of the Wednesday afternoon, it was expected to re-open with full services at 10 a.m. today, Moore said. The extent of those services would depend on the agency's ability to salvage damaged equipment and bring backup computers and other equipment into place.


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