Prepare For Active Shooters – National Safety Month 2017

June is National Safety Month, and Stonehouse Signs, as a founding member of the National Safety Council (NSC,) encourages all employers and employees to participate by discussing the weekly safety topics the NSC has chosen to highlight. This week’s topic is Prepare For Active Shooters. Businesses and other organizations are welcome to use this article as a conversation tool to spur an important safety discussion with their employees.

Look for weekly articles from Stonehouse Signs highlighting the National Safety Month weekly topics, or follow us on FacebookLinkedIn, Twitter and Google + for National Safety Month tips all month long.

Stonehouse Signs National Safety Month 2017For week three of National Safety Month, we’re exploring a new topic that is sadly becoming more common, but can also be difficult for many people to think or talk about – active shooter incidents.

The FBI defines an active shooter as “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area.” According to a recent FBI study, which also notably is the first federal study on active shooters, between 2000 and 2013, there were 160 active shooter incidents. Over 80 percent of these incidents occurred in a workplace – a business, school, government site or health care facility. What’s more, these incidents are on the rise. On average there were 6.4 incidents per year from 2000 – 2006, but that increased to an average 16.4 incidents per year from 2007 – 2013.

As a result of the study and the increase in active shooter incidents, the FBI encourages all workplaces to take the following steps to ensure the safety of their facility and workers:

  • Conduct regular safety and security audits of your workplace
  • Develop an emergency plan in the event of active shooter incidents or other acts of workplace violence
  • Hold active shooter training exercises
  • Train workers on the risk factors that lead to workplace violence for early mitigation 
  • Train workers on how to respond if an act of workplace violence were to occur

To develop workplace training on how to respond to active shooter incidents, the National Safety Council recommends you implement the “run, hide, fight” strategy:

  • Run – the first response during an incident should be to get yourself to safety. Workers should learn to be aware of their surroundings, including noting exits and exit routes, and immediately leave the area when an incident occurs if it is safe for them to do so. Workers should be trained to leave all belongings behind, and to call 911 with information such as the shooter’s description, location, weapons, and number of victims once they are at safe location.  
  • Hide – if leaving the scene isn’t an option, train workers to locate an ideal hiding space. An ideal space would be one where you are not visible, and where evacuation is still an option should the situation change. Also train workers on how to lock/block doors, windows or other entry points, and to silence electronic devices.
  • Fight – this is the last resort option only to be used if workers cannot run or hide. The fight option involves training workers on the best method to incapacitate a shooter – keep moving and be distracting. This could include using available items as weapons, throwing items at the shooter, yelling/waving to distract them, and more.

It is also advantageous for workplaces to review the potential indicators of workplace violence with employees to help prevent incidents before they start. Train workers to recognize these signs, and be sure to implement a reporting process and management procedures for all reports:

  • Sudden change in job performance or overall behavior while at work
  • Emotional outbursts – crying, temper tantrums, swearing, yelling, mood swings, etc.
  • Signs of social isolation or depression, including suicidal comments
  • Constant complaints about unfair treatment
  • Negative reactions to feedback or criticism, including refusal to address job performance issues
  • Negative reactions to changes in the workplace or their job responsibilities
  • Using disrespectful or loaded language
  • Disrespecting authority figures
  • Holding grudges
  • Paranoia
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Chronic lateness or tardiness, or chronic violation of company policies

Also keep in mind when training employees on difficult topics such as active shooters to be extremely sensitive to their needs. The training is important, but so is maintaining a safe and comfortable work environment for your employees. If possible, you may want to offer different training options (such as in person, online, group, one-on-one, etc.) and also encourage employees to speak up if they have any concerns before or during training.

We hope our tips will help your workplace be better prepared for active shooter emergencies. Join Stonehouse Signs next week as we discuss National Safety Month’s Week Four Topic, “Don’t Just Sit There,” focused on ergonomics.  

Since its founding in 1863, Stonehouse Signs has produced high-quality visual communications solutions for various industries and the government. The company specializes in custom products for safety, information and accident prevention, and manufactures a full line of safety signs and facility signssafety tags, vinyl safety decals, and custom magnetic whiteboards designed for extended outdoor life, harsh environments and demanding applications. For more information contact Stonehouse Signs today.

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