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Recognizing warning signs and instituting reporting policies are key steps in preventing active shooter incidents in the workplace, according to a Risk and Insurance Management Society Inc. report.
Many workplace shootings involve employees, customers or someone related to the business, according to a RIMS report released on Monday. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data showed that more than 20% of violent attacks in 2016 were carried out by individuals classified as people that employees likely recognized, with co-workers or work associates the assailants in 66 workplace homicide, students, patients, customers or clients responsible for 49 incidents, and relatives or domestic partners causing 43 incidents, according to the report.
“Assailants often exhibit certain warning signs before escalating to violence” such as poor work performance, unkempt appearance, frequent outbursts, unexplained absences and tardiness, and volatile and defamatory social media activity that employees must understand and recognize, the report said. “Distinguishing whether those incidents are isolated or part of a progression may make all the difference in identifying threats.”
The risk manager and human resources department should also establish a process where employees can safely and anonymously report threatening activity, regardless of the source, according to the report. And employees should be encouraged to alert human resources if they feel their spouse or domestic partner might intrude on the workplace either physically or through the internet or social media, according to the report.
Risk managers can develop active shooter preparedness plans that work best for their organization based on the size, location or scope and within a reasonable budget and timeframe, but should also test and practice the plans throughout the entire organization – effective testing methods include walkthroughs, tabletop exercises and planned or unplanned drills, the report said.
“An unplanned event is a bit more rooted in reality since participants will be forced to demonstrate what they know at a moment’s notice,” the report said. “And while this can be a great way to test employees’ reactions, there can be consequences as well. Operations may come to a halt and there’s always the chance that employees under duress may hinder progress.”
Active shooter incidents have become a major workplace safety concern and employers need to prepare their workplaces and employees to navigate such incidents, according to law enforcement officials.