The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS) International have defined workplace violence as “a spectrum of behaviors—including overt acts of violence, threats, and other conduct—that generates a reasonable concern for safety from violence, where a nexus exists between the behavior and the physical safety of employees and others (such as customers, clients, and business associates) on-site or off-site, when related to the organization.” Over the last eight years, many organizations have struggled internally on how to develop a standard for workplace violence prevention and intervention.
Lockdown Is Not Enough
An organization must, to the best of its ability, engage in efforts designed to prevent extreme forms of violence, such as deadly shootings. FBI studies that have taken place between 2000 and 2017 show that once violence begins, actions undertaken by individuals already located at the shooting scene will have the greatest impact on life safety and preservation. With an understandable delay in law enforcement response, individuals who can flee a scene, avoid contact with a shooter, or defend themselves with lawful use of force against the attackers, can increase personal safety without creating unreasonable risk to people already forced to confront an active assailant. By providing comprehensive direction and training to staff, organizations can help deny an attacker access to additional victims and provide those within the potential danger zone to either escape or seek shelter, thus saving lives. The reality is that all organizations ultimately carry a responsibility, both for humanitarian and legal reasons, to protect employees and others who interact within their workplace to the fullest practical extent. As a result, organizations need to provide their staff with every opportunity possible to mitigate the consequences should violence erupt (ASIS/SHRM – Workplace Violence Prevention & Intervention, 2011).
Workplace Violence and the Law
An employer’s obligation to maintain a safe place to work extends beyond moral and ethical reasons and rests within the legal principles that exist in most states under common law. Legal issues most commonly discussed in workplace violence litigated cases involve:
•Premise liability (the duty of a property owner to take responsible steps to guard against reasonably foreseeable violence);
•Respondeat superior (an employer’s indirect liability for the wrongful acts of an employee committed within the course and scope of employment); and
•A collection of negligence theories, including negligent hiring (the failure to properly screen job applicant), negligent supervision, and negligent retention.
OSHA General Duty Clause 5(a)(1)
Every business owner knows the danger of operating within a highly litigious environment that exists within the world today. If the constant perils of legal entanglement were not enough, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) General Duty Clause requires all employers to provide their employees with a workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious harm. Recent court rulings throughout the country have allowed negligence suits filed by the 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 how to react if confronted by a violent intruder. While most organizations have traditionally applied loose recommendations to their staff – including a lockdown-only approach that addresses hiding under desks or against walls – today, many businesses are spending considerable resources researching more appropriate active shooting response techniques. This realignment of thought has resulted in a change in guidance – a movement away from outdated and inappropriate thinking and instead focused on providing real-world scenario training and response to a realistic threat to their business.
Endorsed by Law Enforcement Across The Country
Current active shooter response training has undergone a dramatic change in a post-Columbine High School world. The standard training sought out by employers is wholly endorsed by law enforcement across the country and in line with recommendations from U.S. federal organizations such as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), U.S. Department of Education and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). By collaborating with organizations that specialize in public safety training and consulting, businesses can provide up-to-date, engaging training to their staff in order to prepare their organizations to handle the threat of an active shooter. Modern day seminars and training teach individuals and businesses to be active participants in their own survival, while helping to usher others to safety. While there will never be a guarantee of total success in these situations, by offering this training to staff, organizations will greatly increase the odds of their employees’ and business’s survival should they face this form of disaster.
Get Active Shooter Workplace Certified
Being a “Safe Workplace” certified organization demonstrates to your employees, stakeholders and insurance carriers that you are serious about safety, including the safety of your employees and visitors. By seeking out, initiating and providing continuous testing of your active shooter response program, your organization is showing the world that you have gone the extra mile to practice safety training deemed critical to help survive today’s violent intruder events.
Robert Woolsey has spent the last two decades in public safety, working as a law enforcement administrator for the last eight years. As a certified law enforcement instructor, Robert has developed the Continuity of Operations, Emergency Services and Incident Action plans for many major organizations throughout Nevada. Robert is a certified Incident Command instructor, sits on the City of Las Vegas Emergency Preparedness Committee and developed the City of Las Vegas active shooter response and de-escalation training. Robert has Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Public Administration and a Doctorate in Organizational Leadership. Robert is the owner of Silver State Consulting and has instructed a myriad of public safety courses for the Southern Desert Regional Police Academy, the College of Southern Nevada and the University of Phoenix. Contact SilverStateConsulting.net, firstname.lastname@example.org or 702.805.0404 with any questions.