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It’s impossible to predict and prevent the deadly violence that on rare occasions erupts from workplace disputes, but managers and coworkers can defuse many difficult situations before they turn tragic, experts say.

“It’s literally impossible to predict in advance who’s going to commit an act of extreme violence,” said Dr. Joel Dvoskin, a board certified forensic psychologist and senior member of the Threat Assessment Group, which offers training and other workplace violence prevention services. “(But) if you prevent less severe forms of workplace violence, you will prevent more severe forms when those situations escalate.”

Dvoskin and other experts stress that preventative measures — including training of employees and managers, providing counseling services and conducting regular performance evaluations based on objective criteria – must be in place and utilized early, before a relatively minor issue can spiral out of control.

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