Securing the Workplace from Threats of Violence

How should employers prepare for the possibility of workplace violence?

By Jeff Smith


After a senseless shooting occurs, my mind will at some point, inevitably, think about the security of my client’s businesses and what they are and aren’t doing to safeguard their most valued assets – their employees.  The recent events in Las Vegas are just another reason to continue to ask the question.

I’m not necessarily advocating that anyone break the bank on infrastructure protections.  Instead, my questions are much more basic.  What have you done to protect your employees if an active shooter showed up at your front door?  Can an active shooter simply walk through the front door? How about a disgruntled former employee?  If so, does the first person a visitor sees, know what to do?  Do your employees know how to respond? 

If the worst were to happen at your place of business, and in the aftermath, an investigation occurred and you were asked, “What plan did you have in place to handle such an event?’ what would your response be?  We know from experience that in any investigation where employee safety is in question, and an investigator asks you what you did to prepare, the worst possible response is, “nothing”.  Doing “nothing” to plan for an event that puts your employees at risk, will likely come with the most severe penalties.  Personally, I would rather defend my plan, than to have to admit I had no plan. 

Putting some key decision makers in a room to discuss and prepare a response is a great first step.  It also doesn’t take much in the way of time or resources to let employees know about a company-wide response plan.  Even infrastructure costs may be minimal, as most employers now have locked and secure employee entrances with card key access.  In many cases, the most vulnerable access to any facility is the front door.  Simply locking down the front door, giving access permissions to the receptionist or gatekeeper along with an emergency response alarm can save precious minutes for the entire workforce to properly respond.

In the scheme of things, it’s not a lot to ask of management to meet, discuss, plan, train, and respond.  It’s the least we can do for those people who represent and promote us every day. 

Jeff Smith is a Senior Human Resource Consultant with HR One. For more information on developing policies for your organization contact us using the form below.