Is Your Workplace Prepared for an Active Shooter Event?

Risk managers cannot assume violence won’t happen at their business. Here's how to mitigate the threat. 
By: | November 30, 2018

Unfortunately, the frequency of active shooter events and incidents of violence at work does not seem to be abating. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed there were 500 workplace homicides in 2016 — up from 417 in 2015 — accounting for 10 percent of all fatal occupational injuries.

Such incidents can have a significant impact on workers’ compensation losses; claims involving a violent attack may result in catastrophic injuries or permanent disabilities that come with high medical and indemnity costs. Risk managers cannot assume that a shooting or other form of violence won’t happen at their business. There are ways to mitigate the threat, however, potentially sparing workers from severe or even fatal injuries.

Risk managers cannot assume that a shooting or other form of violence won’t happen at their business.

Anas Al-Hamwi, senior director of health & safety and injury management for Walgreen Co., and 2017 Teddy Award winner Barbara Schultz, former director of employee health and wellness at Valley Health System, discuss the workers’ comp implications of workplace violence and ways to prevent attacks at the Dec. 5 session at the 2018 National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference. According to the Joint Commission, about 75 percent of workplace assaults occur in health care and social service settings. Healthcare workers are four times more likely to be victims of violence  than workers in private industries.

Regardless of sector, however, some risk mitigation steps could include: establishing an anonymous hotline through which employees can report a colleague’s suspicious behavior; more stringent security features like doors that require a key fob or ID badge to gain entry; training employees in diffusion of tense or emotional situations; and training employees how to respond in active shooter situations.

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration provides a library of resources that help companies identify their risk factors and develop and enforce workplace violence prevention programs.

Katie Dwyer is a freelance editor and writer based out of Philadelphia. She can be reached at [email protected].

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