A workplace shooting or threat of violence can be an unforeseen and unwanted scenario and many businesses write policies, build plans and train staff to deal with critical incidents. Many businesses also have these plans and drills in place to deal with fires, tornados and other crisis situations, but they often overlook the need for training and practice in case of an active shooter.
A recent FBI study found an average of 11.4 incidents a year, and 70% of these incidents occurred in a commercial or business environment, so even though encountering an active shooter in your workplace or study can be unthinkable, having a plan in place is essential to staying safe.
The best way to prepare employees for these potentially deadly situations is by discussing unwanted scenarios with them on a daily basis and empowering them to take action if needed. Usually, active shooter in workplace training is thorough on this subject. Whether it’s through pamphlets or a short video, this conversation can help employees develop the confidence to manage unforeseen hazardous situations.
If possible, train all employees on the three options that should be considered when a mass shooting occurs: run away, hide, and fight as this approach, which the Department of Homeland Security recommends, is the fastest and surest way to avoid becoming a victim or witnessing further injury or death.
Run, Hide, and Fight
You and your coworkers can benefit from workplace shooter training by learning how to react in the event of a workplace assault. The main three tactics are to RUN, HIDE, and FIGHT. Knowing what you can do is crucial to protecting your safety, and these strategies can keep you alive until first responders come and take control of the situation, even if the run, hide, and fight steps may not necessarily occur in this order.
If you hear gunshots, get away from the area as fast as you can, find a secure place to hide, and call the police. When they come, describe the situation in as much detail as you can, including the number of individuals there, a description of the assailants, and the location of where they are.
If you can, close windows and blinds, turn off any lights, quiet your mobile phone, and block the room with furniture to make it more difficult for the assailant to enter. Additionally, if you’re in the same room as the shooter, you should try to avoid being seen by them, hide in a location that is distant from them, and be as quiet as you can while doing so.
Recognize Behavior & Defend Yourself
Among the many things employers need to do to prevent workplace violence, this site posits that it’s important that they also train employees on how to defend themselves first even though it can be difficult to spot a potential threat until it’s too late, and even then employees may not realize the danger or be able to act quickly enough.
Luckily, the FBI has been researching active shooter events for years and offers training videos that can help you recognize warning signs of a person who might become violent at work and these include behavior that is erratic, anger or a change in their demeanor that can be indicative of something more serious.
The FBI provides workplace violence prevention training to organizations, such as universities and businesses, to help them identify signs of a potential threat to others, and this can help stop the threat before it starts and can also help reduce the legal risks to the organization in the event of an attack.
You’re never sure what you’ll need to do when a shooter breaks into your workplace, but fortunately there are steps you can take to prepare yourself, so it’s important to develop a plan that helps you respond quickly and effectively as a well-trained staff can mean the difference between a life or death situation and a minor injury.
Workplace safety experts recommend a combination of training and practice (https://www.osha.gov/safety-management) which can help you prevent an active shooter scenario and minimize the number of deaths or injuries. For instance, you should develop a system for reporting suspicious behavior because it’s important to create a clear, consistent communication process that lets employees know what actions to take if there’s an emergency.
Ideally, these programs should be tailored to your business and the people who work there which can make it easier to train your staff in the right way. It is a good idea to train your employees in how to communicate with each other during an active shooter incident and that could be through a public address system, or it can be done nonverbally.
Having an open conversation about mental health, drug and alcohol abuse and other issues is an important part of any workplace safety program because it can also help people connect with resources like employee assistance programs and mental help.