Workplace Violence: Have a Plan

December 7, 2015

Disclaimer – The information provided below is NOT a substitute for an emergency plan developed with the assistance of security and public safety professionals. This information is intended to encourage you to get a professional emergency plan as soon as possible.

Once again it appears that workplace issues have escalated to deadly violence. Although most of us had no personal connection to the people affected by the San Bernardino tragedy, we likely had at least a fleeting thought about what we would do if faced with a shooter in our workplace. Here are the basics to keep in mind.

  1. BREATHE. In other words, remain calm. As difficult as it is, it is your best chance enable you to take appropriate action.
  2. ESCAPE. Evacuate to a safe area, if possible. If the shooter is coming in the front door and you have a safe route to the back door, take it. And consider this a reminder to learn your emergency evacuation routes.
  3. HIDE. If evacuation is not an option, get in a room, turn off the light, turn off your phone, lock the door, block the door, and stay as quiet as possible.
  4. FIGHT. If all else fails, attack the attacker as a last resort. If you can attack in a group, do it. Throw things at the shooter; move toward the shooter as a group. Do whatever you can to deactivate the shooter if you have no other option.

This information is not a substitute for a well-conceived action plan for workplace violence situations. If you don’t have a plan for emergency situations (natural or man-made), start working on it now. Businesses should consult with building management and public safety officials to develop a plan appropriate for the facilities and their occupants. A good place to start is the Department of Homeland Security’s “Active Shooter – How to Respond.” The entire booklet is available at

If you have any questions regarding preparing a Workplace Safety Plan, please contact Jean Novak, of Strassburger McKenna Gutnick & Gefsky’s Employer-Employee Relations Practice at or at (412) 281-5423.