Workplace Shootings Underscore Need for Emergency Action Plans

Lisa Nagele-Piazza, J.D., SHRM-SCP By Lisa Nagele-Piazza, J.D., SHRM-SCP September 21, 2018
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People were killed and injured in three tragic workplace shootings this week in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Employers can prevent or mitigate violence at work by keeping emergency action plans up to date and training employees on how to respond when there is a threat.

See SHRM's Workplace Violence Prevention and Response resources for help.

We've also rounded up the latest news articles on the workplace shootings, along with SHRM Online resources and news articles from other trusted media outlets.

Maryland Worker Fires Shots

At least three people were killed and three more were injured on Sept. 20 in a workplace shooting at a Rite Aid distribution center near Aberdeen, Md. About 1,000 employees work at the distribution center, according to a Rite Aid spokesperson. The shooter was a woman who was taken into custody and later died of self-inflicted injuries. The woman was apparently a disgruntled temporary employee who reported to work before the shooting began. 

(CNN)

Another Shooting in Wisconsin

The Rite Aid incident was the third reported workplace shooting in a 24-hour period. Four people were injured by an active shooter at a software company in Middleton, Wis., on Sept. 19. The gunman had worked for the company for 18 months and didn't have a criminal record. Investigators are not sure what motivated the employee's actions or whether the victims were targeted or shot at random. The shooter was wounded by officers who arrived at the scene, and he died from his injuries after being transported to the hospital.

(ABC News)

Pennsylvania Courthouse Shooting

A man who was scheduled to appear in court for domestic violence charges fired a handgun in the lobby of a municipal center on Sept. 19 before he was fatally wounded by a police officer. No one else was killed in the Masontown, Pa., incident, but a police officer and three other people were injured. Though the shooting happened near a judge's office, the judge and his staff didn't appear to be the target.

(ABC 7)

[SHRM members-only resource: Managing Difficult Employees and Disruptive Behaviors]

Businesses Should Be Prepared

Employers may never be fully prepared to handle a violent situation, but they can develop an emergency action plan to help workers know what to do in crisis and seek shelter or assistance. They also can create an environment where workers feel comfortable talking about their concerns—whether about co-workers, former employees, family members or acquaintances who may be abusive.

(SHRM Online)

Consider Simulations

Active shooter simulation exercises can be an effective way to prepare workers for a real-life situation, but training methods shouldn't cause unnecessary trauma. The most effective way to prepare for a potential active-shooter event is to combine announced simulations with training materials. Drills can mimic the stress and chaos of an actual event and put the principles of an active-shooter training program to the test. It is important for companies to tailor the program to their individual needs and ensure that all employees are trained on proper protocols.

(SHRM Online)

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