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Responding to an Active Shooter in the Workplace

There’s an unfortunate trend building in the U.S. as the number of workplace homicides is on the rise.

Workplace murders rose by 2% in 2015 from the year prior to 417 people killed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics – and shootings in particular jumped by 15%.

The issue employers are faced with is that despite all of their efforts to protect their workers from industrial injuries, stopping a murder is not a normal part of their risk management process.

Besides the threat to your personnel and customers, companies that do not take threatening behavior seriously may also end up being sued for negligence by the families of victims.

For every person killed in a workplace homicide, there are thousands more who have been victims of some other type of workplace violence. OSHA estimates that more than 2 million Americans are victims of such violence every year.

There are certain factors that may contribute to an increased level of risk for workplace violence, including:

  • Working at night
  • Working in an area with a high crime rate
  • Working in an establishment where alcohol is served
  • Working in a health care establishment or a facility that treats individuals with mental problems
  • Working in a facility that handles money


However, those factors don’t always come into play. Other issues include:

  • A worker who feels sidelined or abused may snap and go on a rampage.
  • An employee’s personal dispute outside of work can result in another party entering the workplace to exact revenge.
  • A fired worker returns to their workplace with a weapon with intent to kill.


What you can do

OSHA recommends that you:

  • Put in place a zero-tolerance policy towards workplace violence against or by employees.
  • Establish a workplace violence prevention program that includes investigating and addressing workplace violence promptly.
  • Establish an emergency action plan.

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