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Six steps to prepare for an active shooter event in the workplace

Active shooter events are devastating and unpredictable, says Melissa Gonzalez Boyce, a legal editor for XpertHR.

She also points out that, unfortunately, the frequency of these incidents has increased, and often occur in a place of business.

“Due to recent events, I believe more organizations are seeing the need for policies to prepare their employees for such an unthinkable event,” Boyce says. “While it may be an uncomfortable topic, organizations should implement measures to increase employee awareness of and improve the chances of preventing and responding to an active shooter event.”

Boyce has authored a six-step process for organizations to prepare for the unthinkable.

Step 1: Implement a “zero tolerance” workplace violence policy

Adopting a “zero tolerance” policy demonstrates an employer’s commitment to violence prevention, says Boyce.

The best policies define workplace violence and provide illustrative examples of prohibited behaviors and a list of objects considered prohibited weapons. To better enforce zero tolerance, companies also need to develop a process to report suspicious or threatening behaviors, she says.

Step 2: Create an emergency action plan

The effectiveness of any active shooter preparedness program is enhanced with the creation of an emergency action plan, says Boyce.

The goal of any effective plan is to better prepare employees to respond to an emergency, such as an active shooter situation, and help minimize loss of life.

Step 3: Offer training to employees

The best way to prepare employees on how to react quickly and effectively in an active shooter situation, as well as give them more peace of mind, is to offer active shooter training, Boyce says.

Step 4: Conduct active shooter drills

Most workplaces have evacuation drills for fires, while few have exercises for active shooter events.

“Active shooter drills are the best way to prepare employees on how to react quickly and will allow employees to practice getting to escape routes,” Boyce says.

Step 5: Perform a safety and security audit

An employer should perform a comprehensive audit to identify and correct any gaps in security or other safety issues.

Boyce recommends that employers seek the input of local law enforcement as part of such an audit.

Step 6: Develop a plan to manage the aftermath of an active shooter incident

Companies should develop a plan to manage the consequences of an active shooter incident, Boyce says, noting that a key element would call for HR and/or management to conduct post-event assessments and activities in coordination with local law enforcement.

Management can be champions for such policies and measures, even though the odds of such an event happening are rare. “They should err on the side of caution and prepare their workforce,” Boyce says.

Finally, Boyce points out, “The failure to prepare the workplace for such a situation may prove devastating.”

Editor’s picks:

A 10-step workplace violence prevention and liability management plan

Battle for a safe workplace continues to evolve

Model Policy: Workplace violence statement









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