Today’s news headlines too often announce yet another violent incident. The most recent data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that 500 workplace homicides occurred in 2016 in the U.S.
In light of this frightening reality, what can Colorado public entities do to reduce the risk? Implement security measures, educate and train, and raise situational awareness to prevent and head-off dangerous, potentially tragic incidents. CIRSA created a video addressing this issue a few years ago, titled Facility and Personnel Security: A Comprehensive Plan for a Safer Workplace, which includes a handbook with a variety of different useful checklists.
Assess physical security of facilities and operations – Barrier protection, fortifying the facility with steel barriers and protective landscaping, as well as making sure areas are well-lit are important. Here are some checklists from our manual that you can have in hand as you inspect buildings to determine exposures.
Follow personnel policies and procedures – Due diligence includes following hiring, management and termination best practices and policies, which includes background checks. It’s vital to establish a culture in which employees feel comfortable reporting bullying or aggressive behavior.
Address threats and violence in the workplace – Frequently review policies with employees, report bullying and, if possible, establish a threat and violence assessment team.
Train for potentially volatile municipal activities – Balancing public access with employee safety can be tricky. Employees need to be aware of their exposure during council meetings, in municipal court, if they are in contact with the public in the field and when handling cash. Steps include:
Having police presence when needed
Openly set and enforce time limits for comments during public meeting
Train employees in conflict resolution techniques
Conduct financial audits
Encourage general communication and conduct situational training – It’s critical for everyone to report suspicious activities. Mock security drills matter. Practicing the fastest way out of a building, where to gather to be accounted for and knowing where “safe rooms” with escape access are in the facility all help to diffuse the impact of violence.
As Coloradans, the Columbine tragedy, recent police shootings, as well as recent reports of damage to property or operational shutdowns are all too recent memories that make it imperative to take action. If you have questions, contact your Loss Control Representative at 800.228.7136.