A former FBI agent said it is far easier to defend against threats from the outside than it is when it involves your employees.By Andy Sheehan

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Both UPMC and Allegheny Health Network say they’re prepared for workplace violence, but guarding against it is a problem for all employers.

A terrifying spree of violence began at Thomas Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia on Monday when a 55-year-old employee in scrubs shot and killed a 43-year-old nursing assistant. Later, police shot the man but not before he wounded two officers.

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“We learned that he was wearing body armor and was carry multiple weapons in addition to the long gun, which was believed to be an AR-15,” said Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw.

Like AHN, UPMC declined to discuss security details but said it is prepared for such events.

“For the safety of our patients, visitors and employees, we do not discuss our specific security measures. UPMC’s elite police department closely monitors events in the communities we serve and is highly trained and prepared to respond to emergencies,” UPMC said in a statement Monday.

But former FBI agent and security expert Larry Likar said for employers, it is far easier to defend against threats from the outside than it is when it involves your employees.

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“Workplace violence. … they’re difficult to predict and often difficult to prevent,” said Likar.

Likar says it’s unrealistic to scan and search all employees every day. Instead, he said companies should set up confidential reporting systems for employees to anonymously report other employees who pose a threat.

“Usually, the employees themselves will know some of the problem people in their workplace, but they’re afraid to say anything about them. So you have to set up a system they can call or send a mail and get the head of security,” Likar said.

But he warns that in firing an employee, a company may set itself up for a retaliatory attack. Likar has advised companies to give those employees a healthy severance package to leave without deep-seated resentments.

“If you don’t do that for some individuals, they’re just going to take them and they’ll dwell on that and they become a threat,” Likar said.

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The health care systems said they’re both constantly reviewing their security measures, but guarding against workplace violence from inside and out will always be a work in progress.