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Program Tackles How to Prepare and Respond to Workplace Violence

The BCW tackled the uncomfortable but necessary topic of workplace violence on Thursday during a virtual event with White Plains Police Detective Lt. Gus Fazzino. The Employer Preparedness—Active Shooter Awareness and Civilian Response Options webinar was a frank discussion about how employers and employees should prepare for, and respond to, an armed intruder.

Fazzino noted that the typical mass shooter in the workplace is a man from 21-50 years old. In recent decades of mass shooting analysis, these men have typically exhibited warning signs, such as an aching despair, hopelessness, and a lack of meaningful connections to others. More than 80 percent of mass shooters were in crisis noticeable to their co-workers or family prior to the mass shooting, Fazzino noted.

The average mass shooting incident lasts about eight minutes and often ends with the shooter’s death, so Fazzino advised employers to consider how they can create safe, bulletproof spaces within the workplace that offer short-term refuge while law enforcement responds.

In some cases, employees may not be able to reach safe spaces, so employers should designate escape routes. Staff should be taught to avoid elevators and escalators. If a mass shooting occurs in a high-rise, employees should be trained to flee to upper floors if the shooter is on a lower floor. If confrontation is an employee’s only option, every effort must be made to overpower the shooter in the most violent way possible, said Fazzino.

Once law enforcement arrives at an active shooter scene, employees should be mindful of their actions so that they are not mistaken as threats. Police officers’ primary focus at crowded active shooter scenes is on people’s hands. Employees should be taught to keep their hands open and empty because in a split second a cell phone can be mistaken for a gun, or a package could be mistaken for an explosive device.

“We put this workshop together to be able to give employers as much information as possible so that they can begin to work with their employees and develop a plan to stay safe and in any type of situation where there is some worktime violence, to be able to have that plan and be able to implement that plan,” said BCW Executive Vice President and COO John Ravitz who served as moderator for the program. “We hope that today’s program is just the start of the conversations that all employers will continue to have to make sure that we’re doing everything in our power to make our offices safe havens for our employees,” he added.

A copy of the active shooter webinar is posted on the BCW’s Business Resource Center

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