active shooter

How to Prepare for an Active Shooter Incident

The FBI website states there have been 250 active shooter incidents in the United States from 2000 to 2017 with 2,217 casualties.

While you may feel this couldn’t happen at your workplace, you may be wrong. The data also shows that 42 percent of these incidents took place in a business setting.

In our recent blog post Complete Your Safety Manual by Including an Active Shooter Program, we discussed how active shooters are difficult to profile because it’s usually an irrational, random target. Profilers share that active shooters tend to focus on “soft targets”, which includes crowded open spaces and a lack of security. This makes construction sites, lumber yards, and the likes a bit more of a potential target. We also stressed the importance of putting employee assistance programs in place in the event of an active shooter event.

Though there are steps to include to help alleviate the physical and mental pain if this type of event ever occurs, the real question is what your business can do to prepare for an active shooter event.

According to the American Society of Safety Professionals, there are five key areas you can focus on to better protect your work site and employees from workplace violence.

1. Assess Your Risks

The first step to protecting your site and employees is understanding your vulnerabilities. Much like a regular workplace risk assessment, an active shooter/armed assailant risk analysis is an invaluable tool in determining what gaps currently exist and how those can be mitigated moving forward.

2. Safeguard Your Facility

Assessing your risks and vulnerabilities provides a better understanding of what it will take to make your facility more secure.

3. Train Your Staff

To ensure that a plan is deployed effectively, everyone needs to understand their roles and responsibilities. Conducting training exercises helps employees think about what they would need to do in an active shooter/armed assailant situation and familiarizes them with the procedures in place to help protect their safety. 

4. Coordinate With Responding Agencies

Invite local police, fire departments and first responders to your site can help you build relationships with those agencies and help them become familiar with your facility.

5. Handle Post-Incident Issues

Ensure your employees get the attention they need, including any counseling to help them cope with what they’ve experienced.

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Active Shooter Holding Gun Behind Back

Complete Your Safety Manual by Including an Active Shooter Program

Just like you can’t prevent a workplace injury, you can’t predict an active shooter incident, which seems to be more rampant in recent years. Companies have in place safety manuals to reduce workplace injuries, consistent job hazard analysis (JHA’s) that lists the hazards with precautions to prevent them, and training for various job tasks to ensure safety. But where does active shooter fall into place? It isn’t something that should be included in your company safety manual, right?

Profiling Active Shooters and Targets

Wrong. The current belief is that active shooter trainings and policies/procedures should be included as part of the safety training in an effort to reduce and diffuse potential situations as 45% of active shooter incidents occur in the workplace. Active shooters are difficult to profile because it’s usually an irrational, random target. Profilers share that active shooters tend focus on “soft targets”, which includes crowded open spaces and a lack of security. This makes construction sites, lumber yards, and the likes a bit more of a potential target.

Active Shooter Training Reduces Injury and Fatality Outcomes

When there’s an injury on a job-site, the staff is often trained to handle the situation, including tourniquet use. Active shooter training is similar. It presents how to respond in the situation, such as the 4 Steps That Can Save Your Life If Confronted By An Active Shooter. Also, what NOT to do in the situation, and how to mitigate the effects through expert input. By having this training, the fatality and injury outcome is potentially reduced. Even better, some incidents may be avoided by looking for key signs that many active shooters exhibit.

Importance of Employee Assistance Programs in Place for Active Shooter Events

Just like with other safety training and policies, it’s important to include how a company plans to handle the aftermath of an event. These devastating scenarios often require trained employees helping to treat the injured, but it goes beyond that as well. Will the company offer counseling options through an Employee Assistance Program? Will they hire on a trained mental health provider? This seems to be the area where many companies are falling behind in the active shooter safety policies. It’s critical to ensure how the aftermath will be handled by the company for employees to reference.

OSHA’s Stance on Preparing for Active Shooters in the Workplace

In short, providing necessary training for employees can help reduce injuries and fatalities in the event of an active shooter situation and harness them with the ability to potentially survive the devastating event. By incorporating a game plan for the aftermath of an event, employees can easily know how their company will support them within the months after an event, just as they do for every other injury. Plus, there’s different schools of thought on whether the OSHA General Duty Clause 5(a)(1) comes into play, but the general consensus is that it does. The General Duty Clause states that employers must provide employees with a place of employment that is “free from recognizable hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious harm to people.” Once an employee has showed signs indicating possible workplace violence, the employer needs to take action. Having the training and plan ready to go, falls into that category.


While active shooters are unpredictable, your safety manual and training doesn’t have to be. Be sure to work with a seasoned training company who can help you with either onsite or public training, as well as the policy for your safety manual. Together, we can mitigate reduce the devastating possibility.