Ensuring Workplace Safety:
Protecting Against Armed Intruders
There’s no doubt that the workplace should be a place of productivity, camaraderie and innovation.
Unfortunately, today’s world has brought safety concerns to the forefront, including armed intruders and active shooters, that can shatter that tranquility. Protecting your office and its occupants from threats like this is a paramount responsibility for any organization. Today, we’ll take a look at comprehensive strategies to safeguard your office environment from the potential of armed intruders or active shooters.
Understanding the Threat
First, prior to looking at protective measures, it's vital to understand the threat itself. Armed intruders are those who pose a dangerous risk to the workplace due to their intent to harm others using firearms or other weapons. Threats like these can come from a wide range of sources, including upset employees, outside individuals who may harbor personal grievances, as well as domestic terrorists.
As statistics and case studies from the past prove, there is no substitute for being prepared. While the emotions and thoughts that drive these unthinkable acts can vary, in many cases, the motivations of armed intruders can range from personal vendettas to ideological extremism. No matter what the cause behind these acts is, you can take steps to protect your organization.
Building a Culture of Awareness
Stopping a tragedy before it starts may sound like a difficult thing to ask, but it is possible by creating a culture of awareness within the organization. That can happen when you recognize potential warning signs, such as changes in behavior or verbal threats. When those signs are shown, it is absolutely essential that those actions are reported to the appropriate officials.
Putting an Anonymous Reporting System in Place
Some companies provide employees with a safe and anonymous way to report suspicious activity or concerns. This helps employees feel more comfortable in coming forward without fear of retaliation.
Holding Regular Training Sessions
By making it a point to have periodic and planned training sessions and exercises, employees are better able to understand their roles and exactly what they should do if and when a situation like this arises in the workplace.
Keeping the Physical Environment Secure
Securing the physical workplace is a vital aspect of providing protection. To effectively prevent and react to potential threats, you need to have robust security measures in place.
One of the most important steps that can be taken is to limit access to the office by putting elements such as key card systems or biometric authentication in place. This helps to control who enters the premises and provides an audit trail for tracking visitation.
Another key step is making sure that all visitors sign in, provide identification, and wear a visitor badge while in the facility. In this way, unknown individuals are easily identifiable.
Put Surveillance Systems in Place
One major step that should be taken is installing security cameras in strategic locations throughout the office. These systems act as a deterrent and provide valuable data during an incident.
Ensure that Entry Points are Reinforced
Strengthen doors and windows with security film or shatterproof glass. Panic bars or other locking mechanisms should allow for quick and easy exit for employees.
Emergency Response Plans
Putting a comprehensive emergency response plan in place is essential for protecting your office environment from armed intruders and active shooters. In addition to ensuring that effective communication protocols and a carefully thought-through first aid response plan are in place, there are three primary OUTs that members of your organization should Consider during an incident.
When faced with a real or perceived threat, employees must get to a clear and accessible exit to Get Out of the area and get somewhere safe (either out of the building or to a place they can Lock Out.
When there isn’t enough time or opportunity to vacate an area, employees should be prepared to Lock Out the threat by locking/securing the area that a group of employees is in.
When there isn’t the ability to get out or lock out a threat, the choice is clear. It's time to Take Out the threat. Employees will throw any items available at the intruder at the same time, and then swarming the intruder to neutralize the threat.
Engaging with Law Enforcement
It’s important to construct strong bonds with local law enforcement. That’s a vital element of maintaining a protected environment. Law enforcement agencies can be a great source of valuable insights and assistance in preparing for armed intruders or active shooters.
Work with with local law enforcement to develop and test your emergency response plan. They can provide feedback and assistance in preparing for a potential incident.
Armed Intruder Training
Law enforcement agencies can provide important insights into active shooter training for businesses. This training helps employees and security personnel understand what to expect during a response and how to cooperate with law enforcement.
One of the best things you can do is to make sure that law enforcement has a clear map of your office layout, and designate assembly points for their arrival. This can help them respond more efficiently and minimize confusion.
Mental Health and Conflict Resolution
Preventing armed intruders and active shooters goes beyond physical security measures. Promoting a healthy work environment, addressing conflicts, and supporting mental health are equally important.
Conflict Resolution Training
Offer conflict resolution and anger management training to employees. This can help de-escalate tense situations before they escalate into violence.
Employee Assistance Programs (EAP)
Implement EAPs to provide employees with access to mental health resources. Encourage employees to seek help when dealing with personal or professional challenges.
Enforce anti-bullying and harassment policies to prevent hostile work environments that could lead to violent incidents.
Secure Your Surroundings
Locking down the office environment against armed intruders and active shooters is a multidimensional effort that requires a combination of security measures, preparedness, and a supportive work environment. By staying aware, securing the facility, putting an emergency response plan, connecting with law enforcement and keeping mental health issues at the forefront, you have the ability to successfully protect your organization against threats.
Evaluate the current communication methods used in your organization. What are you doing right? Where can you improve? In the coming weeks, challenge yourself and other leaders to implement at least one transparent communication strategy into your daily interactions.
Need help? Sollah has the training programs that help teach transparent communication and strengthen leadership skills.
Training INCREASES our ability to take appropriate action. It gives us a greater sense of preparedness, which will help with anxiety and stress levels - especially during violent situation. It helps us prevail! This course – and the videos you will watch during the training - are very realistic. You’ll see an armed intruder, weapons fired, injuries… and fear in each character as they do correct things…and some incorrect ones… when in an armed intruder situation.
As most of us are aware, violence on the job manifests itself in many forms; from emotional abuse to bullying to assault and even homicide. While the latter is the least common, it is the most devastating to employees, families, employers and their communities. PREVAIL!® is designed to help your organization better respond in violent situations involving an armed threat. This program provides employees, managers and executives with information and strategies on recognizing and responding to the dynamic challenges and issues of violent incidents within the workplace.
An armed intruder situation is something few of us have prepared for. And it’s that lack of preparation that raises anxiety… and fear. Where does fear come from? It’s having a problem… without a solution. This program is intended to give you a solution. Based on real life situations, this program is dedicated to helping you save lives… and prevail!
As an administrator, teacher or staff member… others look to you for help… especially in times of need. One of the times you may be asked to lead is when the unthinkable happens. It may help you to think of preparing for an armed intruder event in the same way that you prepare your staff or students for a fire, an earthquake or tornado. By taking a few minutes to train for one of these events, you know what to do in the very unlikely event that it actually happens. The exact same thing holds true when preparing for an armed intruder event.