Is your workplace safe from gun violence? In 2017, 61,839 incidents of gun violence, including 346 mass shootings, resulted in 15,637 deaths and 31,248 injuries, according to the Gun Violence Archive. So far in 2018, there have already been 40,536 incidents. Data from the CDC shows that the number of homicides committed using firearms is on the rise.
Workplaces are not immune to the rise in gun violence. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 500 workplace homicides in 2016, an increase of 83 cases compared to the previous year. Additionally, 16,890 private-industry workers experienced trauma resulting from nonfatal workplace violence.
Workplace violence can come from many sources, including:
- Disgruntled employees and former employees
- The partners, exes, friends and acquaintances of employees
- Clients, customers and patients
- Individuals with no clear association to the workplace
Although violence can happen anywhere, some industries are especially vulnerable. According to the National Safety Council, violence is the third leading cause for employees in fields like education, media, law and health care. Compared to other workers, taxi drivers are 20 times more likely to be murdered while working.
Violence, especially gun violence, is a serious threat in the United States. Companies need to prepare for the risk of an active shooter, just as they would prepare for the possibility of fires and other disasters.
Create a Plan
It’s important to have an emergency action plan covering what to do in case an active shooter threatens your workplace. This should include:
- Multiple emergency exits and an evacuation procedure
- A way to secure doors, either by locking or blocking them
- A method for contacting the police and local hospitals
- A way to alert other people on the premises
Train Employees on How to Respond
According to the Department of Homeland Security, in an active shooter situation, people should first try to evacuate. If running is not possible, it’s best to hide in a secured room. However, if it’s not possible to hide or escape and if a threat is immediate, it may be necessary to fight. In this case, be aggressive. Throw items at the shooter or ambush the shooter with improvised weapons.
It’s also important to call 911 as soon as possible. Try to provide a description of the shooter and the weapons being used, as well as the location and number of the victims.
When police arrive, stay calm and follow directions. To show that you are not a threat, keep your hands empty and visible.
For more tips on what to do in a crisis, see these resources:
- Active Shooter: How to Respond from the Department of Homeland Security
- Active Shooter from Ready.gov
- Prevention Programs from OSHA
- Training & Other Resources from OSHA
As always, Higginbotham is your partner in workplace safety. Contact us if you have questions or need assistance.