In Focus: Active Shooters in the Workplace

By SHRM Online staff Dec 3, 2015

Two people entered a holiday party for San Bernardino county employees and fired dozens of rounds of ammunition into the crowd. Mass shootings are becoming more frequent in the United States. The shootings happen everywhere, including the workplace.

Officials: San Bernardino shooter apparently radicalized, in touch with terror subjects

Syed Rizwan Farook's apparent radicalization contributed to his role in the mass shooting, with his wife Tashfeen Malik, of 14 people Wednesday during a holiday party for the San Bernardino County health department, where Farook worked, sources said.

Still, it wasn't necessarily the only driver behind the carnage, as workplace grievances may have also played a role.


FBI Treating San Bernardino Attack as Counterterrorism Investigation

Officials said it was unclear what set off the attack, given that the target was a group of Farook’s co-workers with the county health department. They say it may have also involved grievances against the co-workers.

“You don’t take your wife to a workplace shooting, and especially not as prepared as they were,” said a senior law enforcement official briefed on the investigation. “He could have been radicalized, ready to go with some type of attack, and then had a dispute at work and decided to do something.”

(The New York Times)

Witnesses Hid in Their Offices, Bathrooms During Shooting


What’s the Best Way to React During an Active Shooting?

Between 2000 and 2013, the FBI reported there were 160 active shooter incidents in the U.S. Forty-five of them were between 2000 and 2006, but over the next seven years, that number more than doubled to 115. Sixty percent of the shootings ended before officers arrived. Law enforcement experts now advise people caught in an active shooter situation to run, hide, or attempt to take down the shooter to save lives.


Resources from SHRM to Help HR Deal with Violence at Work:

Article: How Can Employers Prevent Workplace Violence?

Employers can be on the lookout for signs that a worker may turn violent, according to Edward Yost, SHRM-SCP, HR business partner, employee and management relations, organizational learning and development, with SHRM. “Look for angry outbursts at minor things at the workplace."

Express Request: Workplace Violence Prevention Express Request

While the topic of workplace violence typically ends up in the headlines only after a serious incident, organizations have a responsibility to their employees to educate and prepare for the possibility of all types workplace violence. Being proactive about workplace violence prevention, preparation and response requires a multi-disciplinary approach involving management, law enforcement and all employees.

SHRM Survey Findings: Workplace Violence

Over one-third of organizations reported incidents of workplace violence; compared with two years ago, most organizations indicated that incidents of violence had either stayed about the same (45%) or decreased in frequency (40%), while 15% reported an increase in frequency. This is part two of a two-part series of SHRM survey findings on workplace bullying and violence conducted in 2012.

ASIS/SHRM Workplace Violence Prevention and Intervention Standard

The standard provides an overview of general security policies, processes and protocols that organizations can adopt to help prevent threatening behavior and violence affecting the workplace, and to better respond to and resolve security incidents involving threats and episodes of actual violence.


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