According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), an active shooter is "one or more individuals actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area."
An FBI study identified 250 active shooter incidents in the U.S. from 2000 – 2017 that killed or wounded a total of 2,217 people, with 50 happening between 2016-2017 alone. The number of people injured or killed during each incident is rising.
Attack locations are unpredictable–in schools, government buildings, churches, outside venues… and most often where people work. The FBI reports that nearly half (42 percent) of the incidents between 2000 and 2017 took place at businesses or areas of commerce. Though the likelihood of any company enduring a workplace shooting is low, employers must be prepared to protect their employees should it happen.
While there are currently no specific OSHA standards for workplace violence, under the General Duty Clause, Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, employers are required to provide their employees with a place of employment that is “free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm."
The courts have interpreted OSHA's general duty clause to mean that an employer has a legal obligation to provide a workplace free of conditions or activities that either the employer or industry recognizes as hazardous and that cause, or are likely to cause, death or serious physical harm to employees when there is a feasible method to abate the hazard.
An employer that has experienced acts of violence in the workplace, or becomes aware of threats, intimidation, or other indicators showing that the potential for violence exists, would be on notice of the risk of workplace violence and should implement a prevention program combined with engineering controls, administrative controls, and training.
While it's impossible to predict when or where an active shooter incident might occur, employers can still take a proactive approach to be prepared.
Some best practices include:
- Train: While active shooter training is not legally required of employers, it can help teach employees how to identify the warning signs of violence before it occurs, recognize the presence of an active threat, and best react to protect themselves should an incident occur.
- Plan: Conversations about what to do in the event of an active shooter incident may be difficult to have, but being unprepared and unprotected is even worse. Developing an action plan helps companies identify their strengths and weaknesses before they are tested by a violent individual.
- Practice: Just as you prepare your employees to respond to other devastating events with drills, such as fires or tornadoes, you should teach them how to react in the face of workplace violence using an active shooter drill. The more they practice, the less likely they will be to freeze up in the event that the unthinkable happens.
Developed alongside law enforcement experts and safety professionals, our new Active Shoot/Active Threat training program helps companies prepare themselves and employees. With detailed information about everything from how to recognize the warning signs of violence and develop an action plan, to identifying an active threat and staying safe, this comprehensive program addresses the difficult topic in a straightforward manner. It features real-life scenarios in a variety of industry settings and practical guidance that is designed to educate learners without frightening them.
Active Shooter Preparedness Solutions
Prepare employees and management for an active shooter or workplace threat with critical training that helps learners understand how to prepare for, react to, and recover from an active threat in the workplace. Our solutions are backed by our team of in-house safety and compliance experts, so you always get the most accurate, dependable solutions.
The active shooter training video helps you teach your employees and management how to anticipate, recognize and react to an active shooter threat or incident in the workplace.
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Critical HR best practice tips and real-world applications in one convenient resource. Covers workplace violence and how to protect employees (warning signs, responding to threats, etc.).
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Silver, J., Simons, A., & Craun, S. (2018). A Study of the Pre-Attack Behaviors of Active Shooters in the United States Between 2000 – 2013. Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, D.C. 20535.
Active Shooter Incidents in the United States in 2016 and 2017, the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) Center at Texas State University and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, D.C. 2018