In Wake of Colorado Tragedy, Concern Over Public and Workplace Safety Arises
July 20th, 2012
The mass shooting that occurred overnight at a Colorado movie theatre presents numerous questions, many of which will go unanswered until further investigation. Could this have been prevented? Were there any warning signs? Could people have exited the building more quickly, leading them to safety?
When tragedy strikes, there is little to no time to think. This presents a challenge to both employers and employees when trying to gain control of utter chaos. Not only are you responsible for yourself, but there is an obligation to protect your employees and patrons as well.
We remind all business owners and managers that while there is truly no way to prepare for an event so devastating, being aware of your surroundings and best safety practices is crucial if an emergency should strike.
If an emergency strikes while you are at the worksite:
- Immediately dial 911. Even if you are unsure of the extent of the emergency, call for help and let emergency responders know of the situation. A few minutes will make a big difference in how quickly help can arrive.
- Know ALL possible exits in the building. This should be reviewed with ALL employees and repeated each time a new person is hired. If you are a retail operation, exits should be clearly marked and illuminated for patrons.
- Do not waste time. Do not waste time gathering your belongings or trying to determine the severity of the situation. Exit the building as quickly as possible.
- If exits are blocked, return to your workplace. If exits are blocked, return to your workplace and hang an article of clothing or something similar out of the nearest window. If there is a fire, shut your door, and seal it off as best as possible to avoid smoke inhalation. The article of clothing will inform emergency personnel you are inside.
- Shelter-in-Place for Workplace Violence/Shooting. If your place of employment is under attack and an exit is not near, HIDE in the safest area. Shelter-in-place refers to finding the smallest area and taking refuge there. If there is a window nearby, you can also hang an article of clothing out the window, to let outsiders know you are trapped inside. Avoid overcrowding by selecting numerous hiding areas for each employee/person. DO NOT confront the perpetrator.
- Know who to report to. Once you are outside of the building, and have reached safety, check in. Let your supervisor know you are okay. Every workplace should have a “check-in” protocol with certain employees or managers designated to take headcounts. This will help emergency personnel determine if there is anyone left in the building, and who.
- DO NOT pull fire alarm, if the threat is outside of the workplace. If your office or place of employment receives a threat via phone, letter, or email, do not pull the fire alarm. The fire alarm will disable all elevators, which may be crucial to exiting the building more quickly. Calmly inform everyone that they need to exit the building immediately.
Proactively creating an emergency plan specific to your place of employment will let all employees know of the aforementioned best safety practices. More importantly, delegating responsibilities amongst employees, outlining the chain of command, and determining the safety check-in points outside of your building (all found within a company’s emergency plan) will prove itself valuable in the event of an emergency.
The responsibility of creating a formal emergency plan often falls within the HR department. For companies without HR staff, it is the business owner’s responsibility. For additional questions or concerns surrounding workplace safety and your company’s emergency plan, please contact us. HR Shield is skilled at aiding companies in creating custom emergency plans and can help promote overall workplace safety within your organization.
HR Shield sends its greatest condolences to victims and their families affected by last night’s Colorado shooting, and we are hoping for the quick recovery of all those injured.