QS Community Board

Safety in the Workplace: Setting the Stage for an Active Shooter Safety Plan That Works

Katherine E., Editor

Active shooter situations can happen anywhere, without warning and evolve quickly – the workplace is no exception. Preparing for an active shooter situation can help minimize injury and loss of life should this horrible event transpire. As a leader, you have a responsibility to take steps to safeguard your employees in the workplace. Here is how to get started:

Create an Emergency Action Plan

First, create an emergency action plan (EAP) with input from several stakeholders, including your human resources department, your training department (if one exists), your property manager and local law enforcement or emergency responders.

What to Include in a Workplace EAP

  • A preferred method for reporting fires and other emergencies.
  • Evacuation policies and procedures (e.g., floor plans and marked routes to exits and safe areas).
  • Emergency escape procedures, route assignments and viable, secure safe areas that will protect evacuees from an active shooter.
  • Procedures to be followed by employees performing rescue or medical duties.
  • Information about local hospitals (e.g., name of hospital, telephone number and distance from your location).
  • An emergency notification system.

For more information on creating an EAP, visit the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration's website.

Conduct Staff Training Exercises

Among other actions, training exercises should teach employees how to:

  • Recognize the sound of gunshots in an enclosed space from another room or hallway.
  • React quickly when gunshots are heard or when shooting is witnessed.
  • Follow evacuation routes detailed in the EAP.
  • Assist people with simulated injuries or physical disabilities.
  • Select viable, secure hiding places, and move and hide with little to no noise or talking.
  • Simulate attacking and incapacitating the active shooter.

People present at an active shooter situation are likely to follow the lead of managers, leaders, employees and faculty/teaching personnel during emergencies such as this, so you must set the example.

Leaders’ Responsibilities

In addition to training staff, there are actions managers and leaders can take to prepare for and better respond to an active shooter situation.

  • Institute access controls (e.g., keys, security system pass codes).
  • Distribute floors plans, keys, facility personnel lists and telephone numbers to appropriate managers/leaders and personnel.
  • Coordinate with the facility’s security department to ensure the physical security of the location.
  • Assemble crisis kits with radios, floor plans, personnel rosters, emergency contact numbers, first aid kits and flashlights.
  • Post removable floor plans near entrances and exits for emergency responders.
  • Post evacuation routes in noticeable locations throughout the facility.
  • Support a respectful workplace.
  • Be aware of signs of potential workplace violence and take corrective actions.

Human Resources Responsibilities

But it's not just up to managers and leaders. In an effort to reduce the likelihood of an active shooter incident, the involvement of human resources is also key. Human resources should establish the following strategies:

  • Conduct effective employee screening and background checks.
  • Create a system for reporting signs of potential violent behavior.
  • Make counseling services available to employees.
  • Develop an EAP that includes:
    • Policies and procedures for dealing with an active shooter situation.
    • After-action plans.

By incorporating strategies to respond to an active shooter situation in your workplace, you are taking responsibility as a leader and above all, providing both you and your employees with vital life-saving information.

For more information on the various products available to purchase for your community, browse the QuickSeries® library of safety guides, including: Active Shooter Response

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