New ASSP Technical Report Aims to Reduce Workplace Violence

"In the safety profession, we manage risk for our organizations, so having the right tools is critical," said Brian Hammer, chair of ASSP's technical report committee who spent 20 years in law enforcement. "While no one can completely prepare for horrific acts of violence, smart workplace strategies can help mitigate threats and better protect workers everywhere. There can be deadly consequences to being unprepared."

The American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) has publishedtechnical report to help companies create safer environments and develop a coordinated response in case a hostile event takes place in their workplaces. The report aims to help reduce the risk of workplace violence incidents involving active shooters and armed attackers.

The Active Shooter/Armed Assailant Technical Report—ASSP TR-Z590.5-2019—provides guidance from safety experts on ways businesses can proactively work to reduce the risk of an active shooter, prepare employees, and ensure a coordinated response. The report, which is registered with the American National Standards Institute, also includes post-incident guidance and best practices for auditing workplace security plans.

"In the safety profession, we manage risk for our organizations, so having the right tools is critical," said Brian Hammer, chair of ASSP's technical report committee who spent 20 years in law enforcement. "While no one can completely prepare for horrific acts of violence, smart workplace strategies can help mitigate threats and better protect workers everywhere. There can be deadly consequences to being unprepared."

More than 30 professionals experienced in law enforcement, industrial security, and corporate safety compliance collaborated on the report. It includes five steps: Determine Your Vulnerabilities, Harden Your Site, Train Your Staff, Coordinate with Responding Agencies, and Handle Post-Incident Issues. In addition, because work sites may be closed for a period of time following an active shooter or armed assailant incident, the technical report recommends a business continuity plan.

"While the technical report can help any business create a safer climate, it's especially beneficial to companies that don't have the expertise to prepare for an armed assailant and are looking for a blueprint to assist them," Hammer said. "The report is just what a safety manager needs to thoroughly assess risks and implement controls."

According to FBI data from the past two decades (2018 data is not yet available), active shooter scenarios in the United States reached an all-time high in 2017 with 30 incidents, an increase of 50 percent from the previous year.

ASSP noted that, rather than random acts of terrorism, acts of violence at company facilities would most likely be committed by a disgruntled or terminated employee, an employee's spouse or partner, or a dissatisfied customer. Safety managers can better prepared for hostile situations by focusing on these possibilities, ASSP said.

"It takes some work to be highly prepared for dangerous incidents, but the results are invaluable," Hammer said. "You never know exactly what will happen, so practicing contingencies is key. We execute like we practice."

To learn more and download the ASSP technical report, visit its website.

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    June 2019

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