Being prepared for workplace violence or active shooter events have become top priority for corporations and organizations alike. The workplace violence response programs, Run-Hide-Fight and ALICE, are widely accepted and taught within organizations across all industries. Let’s highlight the key aspects of each program.
Run – Always try to escape and evacuate an area where an assailant is present. Having a planned escape route and being aware of exits is critical for survival.
Hide – If an escape route is not present, hide. Quickly and quietly, secure safety by hiding in an office/room. If unable to secure safety in a locked room, hide behind any large object that will provide protection and act as a shield from the assailant.
Fight – If facing imminent danger and unable to run or hide, the last alternative is to fight the assailant. Prepare to use any object to disarm or distract the assailant.
ALICE (Alert Lockdown Inform Counter Evacuate)
Alert – With this alert should come an immediate response and understanding you may be in imminent danger. Every second counts and swift action is required.
Lockdown – If evacuating is not an option, secure safety in a locked and/or barricaded room.
Inform – After safety is established, communicating with law enforcement in real time is essential to provide critical information.
Counter – Focus on causing a diversion to distract the assailant.
Evacuate – When able to do so, safely leave the area.
Now that we’ve outlined the key aspects of each readiness and response program, how do you determine which program is best for your organization? As stated previously, both Run-Hide-Fight and ALICE are universally accepted and are designed to train employees on how to respond to workplace violence. Whichever program is selected, INTEGRITY recommends continued training with the chosen ideology to drive a consistent message throughout the organization.
So, are workplace violence response programs enough to keep employees safe? The answer to this question is “no”. Equal emphasis needs to be placed on workplace violence prevention programs. Violence can never be predicted with absolute certainty, however warning indicators proceeding acts of violence commonly exist. Ignoring these warning signs can have catastrophic results. It is recommended employees be taught how to identify and respond to warnings by following INTEGRITY’s ACTA model: Acknowledge – Communicate – Take Action. While Run-Hide-Fight / ALICE Training are focused on response to workplace violence, the ACTA model focuses on prevention and reducing the possibility of violence occurring in the workplace. Let’s highlight the key aspects of ACTA.
ACTA (Acknowledge Communicate Take-Action)
Employees need to be trained on how to recognize verbal and non-verbal warning signs which is essential in maintaining a safe and secure work environment. Erratic behavior of a fellow employee, confrontations between coworkers, “locker room chatter” of threats against employees/supervisors, talk of weaponry or bragging about one’s criminal past, should never be ignored. Threats made, even in a joking manner, need to be taken serious. Acknowledging these verbal and non-verbal warning signs could be the catalyst in diffusing a situation before it turns violent. Employees need to dispel the “it will never happen here” mentality and accept and understand violence can occur anywhere.
Employees need to understand the importance of communicating with others when warning signs or suspicious behaviors are observed. This line of communication needs to be established with either a supervisor or department, such as human resources, security or any other designated department within the company. Communication can also be established thru a “hotline” where the employee can remain anonymous. Employees should be reassured information provided is not viewed as “ratting someone out”, but instead taking a proactive and precautionary approach towards a possible dangerous situation. And finally, a company needs to emphasize the importance of the motto “see something, say something” because sitting back and believing someone else will report the information can have deadly consequences.
Once information has been received indicating a possible workplace violence situation, it is imperative immediate action is taken. Responding to such threats is an employer’s legal obligation under OSHA. Established policies and procedures as outlined in an organization’s workplace violence manual should be followed. Key members within the organization who have been trained to handle and diffuse dangerous situations should be involved. This involvement should include formulating a plan to address the negative behavior or actions occurring in the workplace. If deemed necessary, external resources can also be brought in to consult, such as law enforcement, security consultant, investigator, or psychologist. Cooperation and collaboration amongst the various internal and external resources is essential in diffusing a potentially dangerous situation.
Just as an employee should never assume someone else will report suspicious behavior, an organization cannot ignore information that threatens the safety of their employees. The Run-Hide-Fight and ALICE training programs have saved lives, but INTEGRITY believes more lives can be saved if organizations and their employees are trained to Acknowledge – Communicate – Take Action and by doing so reduce the possibility of violence in the workplace.
For more information, please contact INTEGRITY Security Consulting & Investigations
Ken Carter | President
Beth Sawinski | Director | Client Relations