Is Your Workplace Prepared For an Active Shooter?

According to the Department of Justice, the average workplace is 18 times more likely to experience an incident of workplace violence than a fire.

At a session of Safety 2018, the Professional Development Conference & Exposition, held in San Antonio, TX this past week, Bo Mitchell, President of 911 Consulting and a retired police commissioner, laid out the statistics on workplace violence and how employers should prepare. Mitchell cited FBI statistics that measured one or more active shooters once a month on average for the five years previous to the Sandy Hook shooting; now these incidents are averaging once a week.

Almost all active shooter situations are over in 4-5 minutes, which means it’s difficult for police to deploy in time. Because officials can’t arrive instantaneously, Mitchell said, the true first responders in a workplace violence incident are the employer and employees, and training them to call the police is not enough.

In active shooter situations, the Department of Homeland Security says to Run, Hide, and Fight. According to Mitchell, this protocol’s fatal flaw is that the first step should be Alert. He stressed that in a chaotic workplace violence situation, employers must have multiple methods to alert employees as to what is happening and what areas to avoid.

Mitchell listed options such as a PA system, two-way radios, panic alarms, or alerts via cell phones, text messages, or locked computer screens. He emphasized that redundancy and multiple alarms are best.

Mitchell recommended creating an emergency action plan based not only on each specific work environment, but the emergency action/management standards set by OSHA and NFPA and the workplace violence standards set by the security organization ASIS International.