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Risk managers offer workplace gun violence mitigation tips


Businesses and other organizations are facing growing gun violence and need to consider it in their risk management plans.

Of 160 active shooter incidents in the U.S. between 2000 and 2013, over 80% occurred at sites where people worked, according to an FBI study published in late 2013. Nearly 70% of the incidents ended in five minutes or less, with more than half of the incidents ending before police arrived.

Employers from a wide range of sectors, including Starbucks Corp., Cigna Corp., and most recently Uber Technologies Inc., have banned guns from the workplace in an effort to protect their employees and manage risk.

Employers are also incorporating active shooter emergency drills and training employees to communicate any threats that may lead to violence

Risk managers last week offered several approaches to mitigate an active shooter scenario in the workplace. Their top three recommendations are:

• A no-weapons policy. No state can prohibit an employer from banning guns in their building, but in some states such as Georgia and Indiana employees can keep guns in their locked cars on company property. Employers need to know the law to avoid litigation. A workplace weapons ban also needs to be communicated regularly. “Just like any annual policy training, you need to think about a cadence to remind people of why the policy is in effect. It needs to be part of the onboard process as well,” said Susan Morton, senior vice president of reputational risk and crisis management at Marsh Risk Consulting.

• A bullying and harassment policy. Employees need an established procedure to anonymously report suspicious behavior, including from people in relationships with employees as domestic violence often enters the workplace. A company has to have a way to assess threats and respond appropriately. Training employees how to communicate threats is key, said Sean Ahrens, security consulting services practice leader for Aon Global Risk Consulting. “We need to provide the training and education to engage individuals to let us know what’s going on because after the incident everyone says, ‘He just snapped.’ That’s typically not what happened. There were precursors; we were just too buried in our phones to recognize them.”

• An active shooter or emergency response plan. All corporate training and awareness curricula need such a plan because workers don’t typically know how to respond during a shooting. Perform an on-site assessment of how employees perform during “run, hide, fight” scenarios. Like schools that practice lockdowns, companies need to think about similar drills for their employees, Ms. Morton said. Preparation has two sides, Ms. Morton said: What you can do to prevent something and what you are going to do to respond when something happens?

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