Putting safety first isn't just a cute adage anymore — in many cases, it's the law. It might mean ensuring your employees are properly trained on how to safely use power equipment, that they understand the implications of safe internet browsing, or that you need to complete a workplace safety drill for a crisis situation. As a manager or business owner, you need to take the lead to ensure your people are safe.
In this article, we'll focus on the types of scenarios that have been in the news all too often lately — such as a disgruntled employee lashing out at their colleagues and entering the workplace with a weapon. It's something that could happen almost anywhere. But with a proper protocol in place, you can be ready should this kind of event, or another, ever befall your business.
If you were in an airport, this might be interpreted as, "If you see something, say something."
You know your workplace better than anyone. It might be a painful thing to come to grips with, but bad things do happen in this day and age. Leaders must address the risk head-on and encourage good communication among employees. Anything suspicious should be reported right away to the point-of-contact for crisis communication or, better yet, to a central message board where everyone can see it.
Have a Plan
Just like if you were going to practice an earthquake or fire drill, an active shooter situation is something that people need to be able to respond to with urgency. Create a plan and make sure it's posted throughout your business so all employees can review it and prepare for live drills. You should practice the routine at least once every six months to ensure everyone — particularly new employees who may not know the workplace that well — becomes familiar with the routine.
Assign team captains and identify the safest ways out of the space from all points in your office. Make sure the captains are well-versed in how to get people safely to the exits as quickly as possible during an evacuation, and that they have a knowledge of how to avoid areas where they might become trapped. The last resort in any shooter scenario is one in which employees have to fight, of course — but if your place of business creates a large number of dead ends and entrapped zones, take stock of what might be used as protection or as weapons in a shooter scenario.
Consider Safety Courses
Consider sending your employees to a self-defense course. Not all dangerous scenarios involve firearms, but the ability to respond to someone who's acting violently in the workplace could be helpful. A program like ALICE helps employees remain calm and gives them a pre-defined set of steps to walk through if they suspect something bad is underway or about to happen. It can be a difficult thing to present, but everyone is made safer by going through this training.
Keep Your Cool
It's natural to feel a little frightened and discouraged that this is something we need to prepare for in this modern age. However, it's worth noting that our increased access to news media has made coverage of tragic events much more common than it ever was before. There's an argument to be made that being better informed means we're also better prepared.
If you follow these steps, you'll be contributing to making your workplace safer for your employees and ensuring nothing bad should happen to them.
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