Workplace violence may be a rare occurrence, but you should never underestimate the importance of being prepared in the event that your workplace is targeted by an active shooter. An active shooter is an individual who is engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area.
According to the FBI, over 80 percent of active shooter incidents in the United States occur in the workplace.
Shootings can happen anytime, anywhere. The general perception is that these events happen in bad areas or in buildings that contain key members of society. However, this is not always the case, and the majority of shootings that occur in the workplace are carried out by employees, or former employees, for reasons associated with their job.
Even if your business has comprehensive emergency and evacuation plans, the unique and severe risks associated with shootings call for a custom-built plan to protect your business and employees. Take these steps to prepare your business:
- Consider the key differences between an active shooter incident and other emergencies. For example, your business may have dedicated escape routes during a fire, but these routes may not help you during a shooting incident as the location of the attacker changes.
- Walk through your business and conduct a security assessment. Take note of how easy it is for employees and pedestrians to access different areas of your business, as well as any secure areas that could offer shelter during a shooting.
- Reach out to law enforcement and local officials. Establishing lines of communication before an incident will reduce response times, and providing first responders with details like your business’s floor plans will help them plan ahead.
- Educate your employees by regularly notifying them of emergency plans and procedures. You should also conduct an active shooting drill at least once every year.
- Consider what will happen after an active shooting incident. You may want to plan for employee counseling, business continuity procedures and insurance policies that can help during the recovery process.
While you may not be able to prevent an attack from happening, it is critical to keep the following tips in mind in the event that your workplace experiences an active shooter incident:
- Evacuate the premises if possible.
- Call 911 if you can do so safely.
- Warn everyone you encounter to leave the area.
- Remain silent and still if you can’t flee safely. Be sure to silence any devices you may be carrying.
- Block any doors with heavy furniture if you are hiding in a room. Don’t stand near any windows.
Only fight back as a last resort. Be sure to cooperate with emergency personnel—it can mean the difference between life and death. When law enforcement arrives, be sure to react in the following ways:
- Calmly follow instructions.
- Put down any items you are carrying, and keep hands visible at all times.
- Provide as much information as you can.
Attacks can happen without warning. Since they are often finished before law enforcement arrives on the scene, it is important to consider the threat of an active shooter in advance and be aware of your company’s emergency procedures.