National Safety Month: Active Shooter Situations

This is Week 3 of  National Safety Month. The topic for the week is “Prepare for Active Shooters.” 

Below you will find a graphic and an excerpt from an article written by Tom Musick titled “Workplace Violence Prevention.”

The complete article is attached for your information, along with a tip sheet. We ask you to convey the importance of being prepared in the case of an active shooter during a Safety Meeting this week. 

Workplace Violence Prevention

Experts say dialogue, drills are essential to protecting workers -Tom Musick

Too many times, Marilyn Knight has heard the same refrain after a violent workplace incident.

“Nothing could have been done.”

“We can only hope something like that never happens here.”

This mindset frustrates Knight, who has worked with organizations worldwide to develop violence prevention and crisis management programs. Something can be done, she says. Employers can take steps to reduce the risk of violence and educate workers.

“Quite frankly, ‘hope’ is not a strategy,” said Knight, who is president and CEO of the Novi, MI-based Incident Management Team. “There are indeed warning signs. There are things you can do. There are ways to mitigate threats, and you can take proactive steps so you’re not just sitting there at the mercy of something and hoping that somebody doesn’t do this.

Start the conversation

Any safety professional who wants to speak about preventing workplace violence faces a difficult task. How can you speak frankly without scaring workers? How can you increase awareness about the topic without fostering anxiety or animosity?

Knight said the answer is simple: Emphasize that the program is about keeping people safe.

Media reports often paint a false image of workplace violence, Knight claims. Headlines such as “Worker snaps” imply a lack of warning signs prior to the violent event. Rarely is that the case.

Minnesota OSHA offers more than a dozen indicators that may point toward an increased risk in worker violence, including:

  • Sudden, persistent complaining about unfair treatment
  • Blaming others for problems
  • Change in behavior or decline in job performance
  • Stated hope for something bad to happen to supervisor or co-worker
  • Increase in absenteeism
  • Refusal to accept criticism about work performance
  • Inability to manage feelings; outbursts of swearing or slamming doors

The danger isn’t limited to co-workers. Sometimes, individuals may show up to a domestic partner’s workplace with the intent to do harm. Or a customer may feel wronged by a particular company and want to take out his or her frustrations on employees.

What I try to say to employees in training is, don’t ignore your gut instincts,” Albrecht said. “We have a process for this now. And you telling us something, even a small piece of information, could make a huge impact on keeping everybody else safe. I think more and more employees have the courage to do that because they now see it as an ‘us’ issue.

Three simple words

Albrecht said workers should remember three simple words:  Run, hide, fight. If able, workers should flee the building and bring as many colleagues as possible. Run to a safe location away from the building and then call the police. If exits are blocked, seek shelter in an enclosed room and barricade the door shut. Finally, as a last resort, be prepared to fight the shooter. Look for objects such as phones or laptops that may be used in self-defense. If there’s time, decide who will try to overtake the person and how it will take place.


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