Industrial Security Preparation and Planning

In light of recent “active shooter” incidents occurring around the country, employers need to strongly consider improving their planning and preparation for an active shooter or other violent incidents in their workplaces.  For many organizations, workplace violence planning starts and stops with telling their employees to dial 911 and let law enforcement deal with any incidents.   Unfortunately, a number of these incidents are already well underway or even concluded before the first responder has arrived on the scene.   The recent incident statistics are sobering and will be even more so after this year’s toll is tabulated.

In 2014, an active shooter study initiated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) determined:

  • 46 % of active shooter incidents occurred in the workplace.
  • 24% of active shooter incidents occurred in educational institutions.
  • 13% of active shooter incidents are stopped by unarmed would be victims.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2014 (latest year available)

  • Workplace violence is now the 3rd leading cause of occupational fatalities

There are currently no specific Federal standards for workplace violence.  However, under the General Duty Clause, Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) of 1970, employers are required to provide their employees with a place of employment that “is free from recognizable hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious harm to employees.”  The courts have interpreted OSHA’s General Duty Clause to mean that an employer has a legal obligation to provide a workplace free of conditions or activities that either the employer or industry recognizes as hazardous and that cause, or are likely to cause, death or serious physical harm to employees when there is a feasible method to abate the hazard.

An employer that has experienced acts of workplace violence or becomes aware of threats or other indicators showing that the potential for violence in the workplace exists should implement a workplace violence prevention program combined with engineering controls, administrative controls, and training.

How can an employer realistically manage active shooter and other workplace violence threats?

  1. Have a plan addressing workplace violence that is integrated with emergency response planning at the corporate and facility / site levels. Don’t forget about customers, contractors, and visitors!
  2. Provide realistic and relevant training to every employee at all levels of the organization so that they know how to help prevent and respond to an active shooter or other workplace violence situation.
  3. Conduct site and organizational vulnerability assessments and consider implementing security engineering and administrative controls to prevent or mitigate active shooter or other workplace violence incidents.

There are no easy solutions for managing the risks posed by Active Shooters or other perpetrators of workplace violence but there are numerous control and mitigation measures that can be considered to provide significantly more protection for employees beyond advising them to dial 911.

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