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Employers need to train their staff on workplace violence, including active shooters

Employers need to train their staff on workplace violence.

According to U.S. Department of Labor, workplace violence was the second leading cause of death in the workplace in Arizona in 2015. “Train, educate, communicate a plan of action in the event it ever comes up,” said Jessie Atencio assistant director with the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health.

Employers should ask themselves ‘what is my obligation when it comes to workplace violence?’ Atencio said.

“Start to evaluate your workplace, look for vulnerabilities,” he said. “Are there cameras that are not working, are lights out in the parking lot?”

Communicate to your employees so they know to recognize signs and symptoms when something is different about a co-worker, he said. Such as if they’ve undergone a major life change.

“If you’re actually working with a peer, you notice these, you have these classic signs of withdrawal,” he said. “Maybe even the opposite, it can be where they’re just abrupt, where they’re just explosive on somebody.”

Employees need to know how to report that and be able to keep the workplace safe, he said

Employers should also conduct drills that prepare their employees on what to do in active shooter situations.

“We actually had a little drill that we did in our Tucson office on active shooter,” Atencio said. “They enacted the actual emergency evacuation alarm, said it was an active shooter over the loud horn, just so that we knew what we were in.”

You would not believe how many employees came out different doors and were perfect targets for that active shooter, he said.

“That active shooter was just set up right in the main lobby, and not us utilizing other entrances and exits that we should have,” he said. “So it was a way for us develop and say do we have a vulnerability, ‘yes,’ and from there we put in controls to help to mitigate some of that opportunity.”

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