Workplace Violence

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), an active shooter is "an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area."

An FBI report identified 40 shootings in 2020 as active shooter incidents. The 40 active shooter incidents in the report resulted in 164 total casualties (38 killed and 126 wounded, excluding the shooters).

The number of people injured or killed during each incident is rising. Since 2016, active shooter incident data reveals an upward trend. The number of active shooter incidents identified in 2020 represents a 33% increase from 2019 and a 100% increase from 2016.

While the likelihood of any company enduring a workplace shooting is low, employers must be prepared to protect their employees should it happen.

Topics — What You Need to Know

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 incidents occurred between 2000 and 2020. The majority ended before law enforcement arrived.


active shooter incidents occurred in 2020. The incidents resulted in 164 total casualties (38 killed and 126 wounded, excluding the shooters).


of the shooters in 2020 were male.


of active shooter incidents between 2000 and 2019 took place at businesses, offices, or other locations where people worked.


increase in active shooter incidents from 2019 to 2020. A 100% increase from 2016.

You and your employees can survive an active shooter event by:



the shooter by running away, heading toward the nearest exit.



the shooter access by locking or barricading the door.



oneself using improvised weapons. Work together to subdue the threat.

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.

Active Shooter Training

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.

Concealed Carry & No Weapons Signs

Protect your workplace with concealed carry, no firearms, and no weapons sign options.

Active Shooter Go Bags

Provide your employees with critical resources during an active threat emergency. Go bags contain instructions and items to help employees secure room, treat injuries & communicate with police.

Essentials of Employee Relations Manual

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.).

Essentials of Employment Law Manual

Your A to Z guide to employment law compliance with more than 100 vital HR topics covered, including workplace violence (warning signs, employer responsibilities, training/best practices, prevention, post-incident response & a sample weapons policy).

HR Policies & Procedures Manual

Contains full comprehensive coverage of human resources policies and procedures across the most common HR topics, including workplace violence and weapons prohibition.

Human Resources Consulting Services

Get personalized help for your HR compliance challenges from consultants with decades of real world experience. Our customized services make your life easier by simplifying complex regulations.

Employment Law & Regulatory Alert Newsletter

Get current HR news and information in one convenient source. The newsletter explains why you need to care, what you need to do, and how your business could be affected by HR industry news and hot topics.

Employee Relations Management Today Newsletter

Delivers expert insight and advice to strengthen and reinforce employee management skills at all levels in your organization.

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