jeffmay | 19 January, 2015 20:30
As you know, on January 7th two black clad individuals forced their way into the Paris headquarters of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo opening fire. They used AK-47 style automatic weapons on a staff meeting full of employees. By the time the shooters made their getaway 10 of those employees (and two police officers) lay dead with 10 more seriously injured. While the media is focusing on the reasons behind the shooting I can't help but think about how US employers should be responding to this shocking news.
The US has seen its share of workplace shootings:
While the specifics of the Paris attack are unique, they should act as a warning to employers. In the last 4 years the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that between 397-475 people died each year due to homicide at work. The CDC Centers for Disease Control reported that the number one killer for women in the workplace is homicide. Every company needs to prepare their employees for an active shooter in their work location, just as we would prepare them for a fire. A written emergency plan should be practiced regularly and included in new employee orientation. While not every scenario can be anticipated, there should be a basic plan, with the aim that employees can survive the event.
The Department of Homeland Security has issued guidelines for what to do if an active shooter enters a workplace. It emphasizes that employees should know how to get out of the building (1. Run). If their exit is blocked by the shooter, employees should find a place to barricade themselves (2.Hide). Finally, if confronted by the shooter there are statistics that support trying to disable the shooter as a survival tactic (3. Attack). Most importantly authorities need to be alerted as soon as possible.
If your company doesn't already have the basic security of swipe-in badges, key pad entrances, panic buttons, and security cameras at all entrances then they should be considered. While these measures may not stop an attacker, they may stall the attack and bring emergency services to the site more quickly.