Manufacturing Managers, Safety

Are You Prepared if Violence Erupts in Your Workplace?

December 17, 2013

Workplace violence is not a subject we like to think about and, in a simpler time, was seldom on our radar. However as recent events demonstrate all too clearly, acts of violence in schools, malls, theatres, other public places and, yes, in workplaces is on the rise.

According to the National Institute for the Prevention of Workplace Violence almost 600 people are victims of violent deaths in U.S. workplaces each year, and about 500,000 non-fatal workplace assaults are reported annually. It only makes sense, therefore, for manufacturers to take some measures to safeguard their employees should a violent episode erupt.

True, there’s no way to guarantee safety no matter how well you prepare. But there are things you can do improve the odds. Two actions that law enforcement professionals recommend are (1) Exercising Threat Assessment techniques and (2) Having a Response Plan in place.

Threat Assessment
The majority of people who commit acts of violence in the workplace don’t do so impulsively or at random. According to a report by The U.S. Secret Service these perpetrators don’t just “snap” but plan and prepare before the event. Most discuss their plans with others before acting, and almost always exhibit troubling behavior before their attacks, including showing signs of desperation and even suicidal tendencies. The idea behind Threat Assessment is to identify the potential problem before it gets out of hand. The 4 steps in Threat Assessment are:

  1. Identifying a person of concern: Be on the lookout for significant changes in behavior or other signs of extreme stress in any employee or other individual that interfaces with your company.
  2. If you observe questionable behaviors, investigate and gather information from others.
  3. Assess the situation to judge whether you feel there is a potential risk.
  4. Manage the situation, including notifying authorities if warranted.

Local and state governments throughout the country offer workshops that can teach you and your staff the principals of Threat Assessment so you can put a sound program into place. Learn more about Threat Assessment.

Response Plan
If violence erupts in the workplace, you need a plan of action to minimize the damage. Today one of the greatest concerns is an attack by an active shooter. The National Tactical Officer’s Association defines an Active Shooter as: “One or more subjects who participate in a random or systematic shooting spree, demonstrating their intent to continuously harm others. The overriding objective of an active killer appears to be that of mass murder, rather than other criminal conduct such as robbery, hostage taking, etc.”

Depending on the physical nature of the workplace, there are two recommended approaches to responding to an active shooter. In some circumstances, such as in office areas, you may be able to follow the Lockdown Procedure that includes 3 “Outs:” Lock Out, Get Out & Take Out.

  • Lock Out: Lock yourselves in an office or other space, using any means possible to secure entry points including barricading doors, covering windows, darkening the room and remaining quiet.
  • Get Out: If you have a viable escape path, such as through a window or door away from where the shooter is, quickly get everyone out of the area.
  • Take Out: If all else fails, first responders have not arrived, and the shooter enters the room, you may have no alternative but to attack them and try to gain control.

In more open areas, such as a large shop, your options are to Run, Hide or Fight, whichever gives you the best hope of survival.

Again, there are public and private professionals who can help you assess what kind of a response plan makes the most sense for your facility and formulate a response plan. Although it is unfortunate that we must consider these situations, it’s wise to have a plan in place.