- On November 16, 2016
Nearly 2 million American workers report having been victims of workplace violence each year. Many more cases go unreported. The questions are: Is your company prepared for the worst? Is your reception area going to serve as an effective gatekeeper between your employees and the world?
Research has identified factors that may increase the risk of violence for some workers at certain worksites. Such factors include exchanging money with the public and working with volatile, unstable people. Working alone or in isolated areas may also contribute to the potential for violence. Providing services and care, and working where alcohol is served may also impact the likelihood of violence. Additionally, time of day and location of work, such as working late at night or in areas with high crime rates, are also risk factors that should be considered when addressing issues of workplace violence. Among those with higher-risk are workers who exchange money with the public, delivery drivers, healthcare professionals, public service workers, customer service agents, law enforcement personnel, and those who work alone or in small groups. Need policy; prevention; and risk assessment.
Statistics on workplace violence in the US:
- 2nd leading cause of on-the-job fatalities, behind automobile accidents.
- Leading cause of death in the workplace for women.
- Businesses are the most common location of active shooter attacks.
The FBI reports that 45.6% of active shooter incidents occur at commercial areas with and without pedestrian traffic.
- Costs the American workforce $36 Billion annually.
OSHA Requirements for Business: A duty to protect
The failure of an employer to address the threat of an active shooter in the workplace can be an Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) violation under the General Duty Clause (Section 5(a)1). It requires employers to provide their employees a place of employment that is free from recognizable hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious harm. OSHA violations can lead to citations, fines, lawsuits and damage to institutional reputation.
Recent court rulings throughout the country have allowed negligence suits filed by victims of Active Shooters to proceed against employers for failing to provide defensive training to their employees. In other words, companies can no longer avoid their corporate responsibility to provide training on both how to spot potential active shooters and on how react if so confronted.
There are steps that can be taken to decrease the chances of workplace violence and increase overall preparedness. Businesses need threat assessments; researching and assessing vulnerabilities to different types of disasters. They also need to have emergency plans and protocols in place in case of any such emergency situation. Most significantly, these plans must be taught and implemented. All employees should be trained and must be aware of the emergency plans. Drills should be run regularly to practice for emergency situations. Finally, crisis communication planning is key to making sure the emergency is navigated successfully.