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Advice on how to Deal with Workplace Shootings

Advice on How to Deal with Workplace Shootings

April 11, 2023
Companies should have procedures for employees to report (including anonymously) concerns in the workplace, threats and acts of violence.

As the nation mourns with the employees of Old National Bank in Louisville where one employee shot five others, we again ask ourselves what could have been done.

In an article on PBS,  James Densley, professor of criminal justice at Metropolitan State University in DePaul, Minnesota and co-founder of The Violence Project, made this observation. “We have built an industry around how to lock bad guys out. We have heavily invested in physical security measures like metal detectors, cameras and armed security guards. But too often in workplace shootings, this is someone who already has access to the building.”

And the numbers bear this out as a recent study of mass shootings between 2016 and 2020 found that about half of all attacks were perpetrated at businesses, many by employees or customers.

Statista offers this accounting of the number of victims of workplace shootings in the US between 1982 and January 2023.

How can companies address this? An article by Christina Jepson, of Parson Behle & Latimer, says a company's anti-violence policy should also contain policies that address other subjects including:

  • The company’s right to conduct background checks to ascertain any patterns of violence in applicants’ backgrounds.
  • Mental health support for employees
  • Resources for employees who are involved in a violent incident
  • A zero-tolerance anti-violence policy
  • Disciplinary procedures for employees who violate the anti-violence policy
  • Workplace dispute mediation
  • Procedures for employees to report (including anonymously) concerns in the workplace, threats and acts of violence (including no retaliation policies).
  • Procedures for employees to comfortably report domestic violence and protective orders so employers can enact a safety plan.
  • Procedures for when law enforcement should be contacted.
  • The company’s right to search employees’ personal storage areas, such as desks and lockers.
  • The company’s right to conduct regular on-site inspection.s
  • A communication policy that informs employees that their workplace email and messaging is subject to monitoring.
  • Employee surveys to analyze and address existing safety concerns and threats
  • A threat management team
  • Training employees for an active shooter situation and other violent situations.

Over the past few years, EHS Today has looked at this issue from a variety of angles and here are some of the articles:

SLC 2022 Mitigating Workplace Violence

Active Shooter Survival

Workplace Violence and Mass Shootings

Indicators of Workplace Violence

About the Author

Adrienne Selko | Senior Editor

Email [email protected]


Adrienne Selko is also the senior editor at Material Handling and Logistics and is a former editor of IndustryWeek. 




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