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Employers have a wide range of workplace safety issues they must worry about, but active shooter incidents are quickly rising to the top of the list.
The Washington Navy Yard shooting in 2013 in which 12 people were killed and three injured demonstrated the challenges law enforcement have in dealing with active shooter incidents because responding officers could only access certain parts of the building, according to law enforcement officials speaking at the American Society of Safety Professionals annual conference in San Antonio in June. In January, a murder-suicide at a workers compensation law firm in Long Beach, California, left two men dead and one injured.
Employers can help improve the law enforcement response to such incidents by training their employees in advance, including by advising employees to emerge from the workplace with their hands up in the air and with no cellphones in their hands so responding officers know they are not a threat and are not holding weapons.
Safety and security professionals should start conversations with law enforcement prior to any incidents, including asking them for advice on how to prepare for active shooter situations and to assess their facilities and layouts to offer advice on how to secure their premises because shifts in office design, including the use of glass doors or open space concepts, have raised concerns about the safety of employees in these situations.
Employers and employees should also watch for signs that a fellow employee could become a danger to the workplace, including that he or she begins to talk about guns or other weapons or expresses an “abnormal fascination” with previous active shooter events, according to law enforcement officials.
But one thing employers definitely do not want to do is automatically fire concerning employees because they could still come back and threaten the workplace. A better approach is to try to get them help and to contact law enforcement about any employees exhibiting troubling behaviors.
Meanwhile, the practice of arming teachers in response to the threat of a school shooting has implications for workers compensation and workplace safety because training teachers to carry weapons is an often overlooked, but critical task, according to experts. The insurance industry is still generally covering the exposure, with most insurers viewing insuring a district that allows teachers to carry concealed weapons no differently than other risks, but one Iowa-based insurer told Kansas schools in 2013 it would not insure them because of the heightened liability risk associated with armed educators.
Police are calling Friday’s murder-suicide at a workers compensation law firm in Long Beach, California, an act of “workplace violence” that left two men dead and one injured.