YES! Unfortunately, many employers only start considering implementing an active shooter policy when tragedy strikes like the recent Las Vegas shooting that killed 59 people. An active shooter situation is just one type of workplace violence your company could face. Most employers are better served by a general policy on workplace violence. Your policy should include these basic 5 key components:
- Prohibition of actual or threatened violence: It should be clear to all the employees of the company that those who lose their composure and threaten to injure others would be subject to severe discipline, up to and including termination, regardless of whether they actually intend to follow through on the threat.
- Address company culture: Employers should create an environment where workers feel comfortable talking about their concerns regarding co-workers, former employees, family members or acquaintances who may be abusive. These can be potential red flags and they should be prepared to act when those concerns are aired.
- A ready response plan: If workplace violence occurs, employees need to know what to do. A basic response plan can help any workplace and it should include a process for locking down the worksite, isolating the armed individual to the extent possible, and contacting authorities. Implement a policy of retreating when possible and contacting law enforcement for aid. The plan should have accountable leaders in charge of crisis management to whom employees can look up to for knowledge and quick action when the crisis does occur.
- Mandatory reporting component as a company policy: Employees who overhear threats of violence must report them to management so they can be investigated and addressed. The best possible outcome is identifying and neutralizing threats before they become physical violence.
- Practical Training: When violent incidents do occur at the worksite, there should be a procedure for employees to follow. A policy handbook or a safety video is just not enough. The company should provide practical training on how to react in a hostile situation. Employers should tell workers that company resources like cash and equipment aren’t important. The workers are the most important themselves. Employees should be told to do what they need to do to protect themselves and not to focus on protecting company property.
In short, employers should have a plan on how to address workplace violence, and what to do in an active shooter incident. Craft a policy that addresses all types of workplace violence, including verbal threats and catastrophic active shooter situations. Having a good policy ensures that employees follow a planned action and there is less confusion in an emergency.