Words no business owner, or anyone for that matter wants to hear. There you stand, frozen, possibly face to face with an ACTIVE SHOOTER. Is he/she a disgruntled employee, a client, an angry family member?
Now, what do you do? How do you handle the situation,help your employees, co-workers, friends or family? How do you help yourself, before, during and after the incident? Just what is your liability in this situation, both while the incident is unfolding and afterwards when all damages have been assessedin degrees of loss of life, injury, emotional scarring and business continuity? I was recently asked by an employee if we could attend an “Active Shooter” seminar. My initial reaction was that of denial and surprise at the request. My definitive answerwas “YES”. You usually can count on your employees to jolt you to reality by their actions and/or words. That’s a double edged sword as any owner can tell you.
Until that moment I had never really given the issue of “Active Shooter” much thought. I thinkwe all like to push those type of thoughts out of our mind as something that happens to others, “not in our little slice of heaven, not in our reality”. According to the Department of Labor there were 417 workplace homicides in 2015. 85% of the shootingsresulted in 354 fatalities. The seminar we attended was presented by the Incident Management Team, Inc. of West Bloomfield, Michigan, with Dr. Kenneth L. Wolf, Ph.D., as the session’s featured speaker. While the entire seminar cannot be recreated in itsentirety within the confines of this article, I would like to help both employers and employees become more aware of key components involving and impacting the workplace by evaluating and handling situations that may lead to “Active Shooter” incidents.be identified in its infancy and brought to managerial awareness as expediently as possible. Employers and employees share the responsibility to identify and report any act that is physically assaultive or behaviors indicating potential for violence (throwingobjects, shaking fists, destroying property, etc.). Threats to harm either coworkers, management or the general public should never go unreported or unaddressed. It is up to employers, managers and crew leaders to encourage and promote a work environmentwhere employees are comfortable reporting potential aggressive behaviors without fear of reprisal.
As employers, we need to document reports of violence or anger events, threats or menacing behaviors. We, as employers are assuming more liability for our reactions and responses to reported “troublesome” behaviors. Have you or your company instituted written policies to address these types of behaviors? Do you have a written standard addressing company responses to these types of behaviors? Have you updated your company handbook, held safety meetings, safety training or made concrete attempts to communicate and educate your employees as to the process for reporting these types of events, whether the threats are real or perceived? Your company needs to engage in a Violence Labor-Management Partnership. By creating company policies, updating employee handbooks, providing employee safety training, facilitating discreet reporting methods, as well as providing a fair and consistent company response you may already be limiting your liability and possibly saving lives.
I am sure most, if not all of our members, provide CPR training, respirator fit testing, confined space entry training, etc. It appears that an even more crucial part of our safety training program should include an “Active Shooter” component addressing early reporting, approaching or being approached by an active shooter, safety zones, lock downs, attending to wounded, overcoming crisis responses and more. While these skills may not be regularly required or relied upon by a majority of our day-to-day workforce, these skills will prove invaluable in a crisis situation by minimizing loss of life, injury and property destruction. Additional training for estimators and field technicians as well as public receptionists should address personal safety and victimization avoidance. Our employees are entering homes and workplaces in field settings. Verbal diffusion, conflict avoidance and situational awareness training is needed for dealing with difficult or angry individuals. As small business owners we shoulder a heavy burden juggling fairness and privacy concerns for our employees as well as litigation exposure for unsafe or hostile workplace environments should an “Active Shooter” crisis unfold. We owe it to ourselves and our employees to become educated and provide relevant training and safety education.
A desirable secondary by-product of that training may be that of liability mitigation on the part of the employer. Always a plus! Consulting companies such as IMT (www. theimt.org) provide a valuable and affordable array of incident safety and training services that can be tailored to virtually any size company from coast to coast. Those services can be all inclusive or targeted to specific areas and requests. Be proactive! Schedule a consultation with a company that specializes in this type of crisis management safety training. Consult with your insurance agent. Is your company protected? Does your insurance provide coverage in the event you or your employees fall victim to an “Active Shooter”? Let’s save lives, keep our employees safe and mitigate our liability. It makes good sense.