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Back to Basics: Why Workplace Violence Programs Matter

Back to Basics: Why Workplace Violence Programs Matter

Al Shenouda, former federal protective security advisor, talks about the importance of training employees to be prepared for active shooting incidents.

Emad “Al” Shenouda has conducted over 300 active shooter training sessions and has conducted train-the-trainer programs for over 3,000 law enforcement officers.

A former federal protective security advisor for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), he has seen the proliferation of active shooting incidents across the United States. He now provides consulting services as well as training through The Power of Preparedness, a sequence of courses designed to prepare workers for a workplace violence situation.

The training program is geared towards healthcare, manufacturing and commercial industries. The program’s lessons focus on psychosocial indicators of workplace violence and cover the broad spectrum of insider, external and collusion threats. Hands-on demonstrations allow them to train staff on room barricading techniques and lockdown procedures.

In an interview with EHS Today, Shenouda explains why workplace violence programs matter and what safety and human resources professionals should do to ensure workers are prepared.

EHS Today: Which factors/events influenced or shaped your training course?
Emad “Al” Shenouda: Virginia Tech, the DHS and FBI developed the “Run, Hide, Fight” program as the national strategy for active shooter preparedness and response. We provided classroom training, but it became impossible to scale and meet the needs of larger organization or smaller organizations that stand-up training is not suitable or possible. Based on our experience and customer feedback, we knew that people were getting killed in the U.S. because of mass casualty shootings and other active assailant attacks faster than they can be trained. We must bring basic active shooter/assailant training to 50 million people as efficiently as possible.

EHS Today: Where should an EHS professional start when he/she is looking to implement a plan? 
Shenouda: Employers must begin by accepting and understanding that the threat of workplace violence is a significant phenomenon in the United States. No workplace is immune. It can happen anywhere, any time. Two people are killed daily in the U.S. 

EHS Today: How can an EHS professional work hand-in-hand with human resources (HR) to ensure any policies/procedures are efficiently implemented?
Shenouda: HR needs to ensure that they have adequate pre-employment screening and that they offer workplace violence training to all employees with emphasis on behavioral indicators and reporting mechanisms as well as an employee assistance program (EAP). 
Safety and security should become the field extension of HR – eyes and ears – and work with management and supervision to detect problem behavior and act on it quickly before an employee goes through a downward spiral and becomes dangerous to the workplace.

EHS Today: Do you have any examples of programs/policies that could hinder emergency responders or be counterproductive in saving lives? 
Shenouda: Believing that it can’t happen to them – the wildebeest mentality. With more wildebeests than lions, they believe that it won’t get them, that it will be some other poor chap.

EHS Today: What resources in addition to your training course can employers utilize?
Shenouda: The DHS offers the “Run, Hide, Fight” video. Your local law enforcement could do some training without cost. We offer additional consulting services such as security and vulnerability assessments as well as planning and exercising workshops.

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