Picture this: you’re at an event, perhaps with family or friends, and with only the cares of the drink and food you purchased and the excitement of the festivities on your mind. When suddenly, you see the person next to you and several others around you appear to trip or suddenly drop quickly to the ground.
Then, as you look into the lifeless eyes of the person at your feet, you hear what sounds like firecrackers amidst the ear-splitting screams of everyone around you. Your brain races to try to figure out how to get to safety.
That’s what it could have felt like for many at the recent event in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Now, imagine for a moment that you’re not at a concert but sitting at your desk with only the cares of your workday schedule when you hear those “firecrackers” and screaming. Or, worse yet, that you are the intended target of this particular act of workplace violence!
For many, this is an unbelievable scenario. After all, something like this “could never happen to them.” Which, by the way, is the one thing that most victims have in common: Up until a moment before it happened, they believed that it would never happen to them!
But, as an expert in ethical self-defense and workplace violence, safety, and security, this is an all too familiar story for me because I see it play out, albeit in different settings, and with different weapons and attacker types, every… single… day.
In fact, every week in the US alone, an average of 13 people are killed, and another 38,500 – the entire population of many small towns – are beaten, maimed, raped, robbed, or otherwise victimized in workplace violence attacks.
But what can events like a mass shooting at an outdoor concert in Las Vegas teach the C-Suite and business owners about the potential flaws in their workplace violence plans, policies, and training programs?
Here are three lessons just for starters:
1) Human beings stampede when they panic and, in lieu of training and a reliable response plan, will cause added injury to themselves and others in the process of trying to get to safety. Attackers plan around this response, and so should you.
2) Violence is random by nature. You never know when it will happen or the form it will take. But, just as with fire safety, you do as much as possible to prevent incidents from occurring, but also install mitigation procedures and training in the event one does occur. Because, even if the likelihood of an event is low, the loss and level of consequence from an occurrence will be much more costly than the expense of putting the right systems, plans, and training in place.
3) Attackers don’t care about what you’re going to do to them after they do what they’ve come to do. Even if they don’t kill themselves, as shooter Stephen Paddock did when the police breached his hotel room, your assailant(s) will not be concerned about consequences or the threat of punishment in the moment when they’re attacking.
The world has become a very different place from the one you and I grew up in And while many businesses have taken steps in instituting workplace violence policies and introducing albeit limited training, about 70% of companies, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, are still guided by either denial, ignorance, or avoidance.
What can and should you be doing to “attack-proof” your company against workplace violence, and insure a more safe workplace for you and your people?
Here are a few quick suggestions to steer you in a more proactive direction:
1) Avoid relying solely on passive prevention. As discussed previously, attackers don’t care about your “Zero Tolerance,” and punitive action statements. And, as for other deterrents like “banned weapons on-site” lists…
…they often rely on them and count on there being little to no resistance!
2) Have your workplace violence plan, policy, and response training designed by an expert in violence mitigation and tailored to your specific business. One of the worst things most companies do is to assign this project to a manager or committee with NO ACTUAL EXPERIENCE in dealing with violence and violent people! What sounds logical sitting in a meeting room, is often exactly OPPOSITE of what’s logical, and what works, in the face of actual violence and danger!
Also…don’t use borrowed and modified templates. From the facilities to the operations, your business is different from all others, even those within the same industry. So too, your plans, policies, and training should be tailored to your unique circumstances, layout, and needs.
3) Avoid randomly chosen “awareness” and stand-alone training programs. I know this is heresy, even among many other security experts and workplace violence consultants, but the truth is that an “awareness and prevention” training class, regardless of how popular or highly recommended, does nothing to make your workplace safer tomorrow morning. While it will make those who paid attention during the training more aware, and some may take away a few tips on preventative measures, training like this is more often than not a huge waste of time, money, and resources better directed toward proactive changes.
It’s not that this training is not useful, but it should be a part of a systemic whole and introduced at management and employee levels at specific points in the roll-out of the new or augmented security and workplace violence response system, not used like “Band-aids” or feel-good activities which only create the illusion of safety and a false sense of security.
Prevention is NOT Enough!
If you get to know me, or have heard me speak, you will hear me say that quite often. And I’ll say it one more time: “Prevention is NOT Enough!” Because, having a “prevention and threat of punishment-only” policy doesn’t answer the question…
“What if Your Prevention and Deterrent Policies FAIL?”
The incident in Las Vegas was a horrible tragedy, as are others that occur every day (several of which have occurred since I sat down to write this). However, merely talking about these incidents until the next tragedy comes along does nothing to decrease the likelihood of an attack in your own workplace, nor your ability to respond quickly to save lives or mitigate damages.
You have a choice. You can either be realistic about the reality that is workplace violence – recognizing that, in today’s turbulent world, there are more and more reasons people seem to find to lash out against and throw violence at their fellow human beings, and take action on that knowledge; or you can continue to ignore this reality and be left to deal with the damage to not only people and property, but also to your reputation, liability, and company’s sustainability in the aftermath!
If you’re looking to take action, we’re here to help and look forward to the opportunity to sit down with you and explore your needs.
If not, then this was just another interesting article you found and, I wish you and your company well in your endeavors.
About the Author:
Jeffrey M. Miller SPS, DTI, is an internationally-recognized expert in ethical self-defense and workplace safety & security. He is the co-author of two books on workplace violence and emergency management, a safety video, and over 500 articles on the topic of safety and self-protection.
As a partner and trusted adviser, he specializes in increasing every client organization’s and/or department’s level of safety, security, and reputation for employee care, while simultaneously decreasing threat potential, damages, and liability from acts of violence in the workplace. And, in cases where avoidance and prevention isn’t or wasn’t possible, he helps them to maintain business continuity at the greatest level possible until activities can be returned to 80 percent or better of pre-event levels.
For additional information or assistance, Mr. Miller may be reached through his office in the U.S. at: 570-884-1119, through his Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/WarriorConceptsInternational/, through this website, or via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org