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Risk in Context

Workplace Violence: Be Prepared Anywhere, Anytime

Posted by Chandra Seymour October 07, 2015

A community college in Roseburg, Oregon ... a supermarket in Elkhart, Indiana ... a health care clinic in Reno, Nevada ...  a TV news station in Roanoke, Virginia ... a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado ... a shopping mall in Omaha, Nebraska.

Are you noticing a pattern here? If not, well, that’s entirely the point. As is tragically evidenced by recent news headlines, workplace violence can strike anywhere and at any time.

The above examples represent only the most sensational, recent incidents. Hundreds more occur regularly across the country. And the trend shows no signs of abating.

Those tasked with ensuring the safety of their employees, customers, and visitors — including risk managers and public safety officials — should be prepared with a comprehensive strategy that includes the following:

1. See something? Read something? Hear something? Say something!

Everyone should be mindful of their surroundings and the potential for an active shooter situation or other workplace violence threat. Put processes in place for individuals to report suspicious or potentially violent behavior to your human resources or security department, and/or law enforcement.

2. Know the drill.

Consult with local law enforcement and emergency responders now. Ensure that individuals in your organization understand their roles and those of law enforcement responders during an incident. Your plan should be specific to your work location. Take into account floor plans, the entire property/facility, adjoining locations and/or properties, and the surrounding area. Regularly practice workplace violence and lockdown procedures, as you would fire drills. Consider also conducting periodic tabletop exercises.

3. Get the word out.

Design a clear strategy for how you will communicate with each other, employees, students, customers, security, law enforcement, corporate headquarters, and other stakeholders during a potential or actual workplace violence incident.

4. Evacuate or lockdown.

Determine in advance the strategies for evacuation or lockdown. Identify at least two evacuation routes, meeting locations, and a method of accounting for all individuals. Consider that the right meeting location for a fire evacuation may not be suitable for a workplace violence incident. Understand your options when faced with an active shooter, whether inside or outside your facility.

5. Double-check your insurance coverage.

Review your insurance policy to be sure it’s adequate for workplace violence incidents. Your advisors can help ensure you respond promptly and appropriately to manage impacts and consequences effectively.

You’ll likely have little or no warning before a workplace violence incident; the sound of gunshots may be your first indication of a problem. And while nothing can fully prevent such threats, you can take action now to reduce the risk, better protect people, hasten recovery, and mitigate potential damage.

Related to:  Marsh Risk Consulting

Chandra Seymour

Senior Vice President, MRC Reputational Risk and Crisis Management