As defined by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), an active shooter is an individual who is actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area. From 2000 to 2013, 160 active shooter incidents occurred in the U.S. This was an average of 11.4 incidents annually, and 70 percent of the incidents occurred in a commercial, business or educational environment.
In most cases, an active shooter incident ends in five minutes or less—before law enforcement can even respond. This means if you want to protect your construction workers, you must train them to identify potential warning signs of violence, raise their concerns, and make life or death decisions quickly should an active shooter incident occur at your office or on a jobsite.
Run, Hide or Fight
The FBI’s current model for responding to active shooters is to encourage civilians to run, hide or fight—in that order. Workers should be instructed to first run as far away from the situation as they can. If they are unable to get away to a safe location, they should locate a secure hiding place. In a heavily populated area, this may be a nearby building. In a remote location, it may be an onsite project trailer or a nearby stand of trees or bushes. Whatever hiding place is chosen, it should provide as much cover and protection as possible. Workers should never attempt to hide in a dangerous place, such as a roof or ledge without fall protection. As soon as it is safe to do so, the worker should contact emergency personnel with the location of the shooter as well as a physical description if known.
If the active shooter confronts the worker before he or she is able to run or hide, it’s time to fight. Train your workers to improvise weapons, act with aggression and take the shooter down as quickly as possible. A team approach—if other workers are nearby—may be more effective than an individual attack. Consider hiring a security company or Krav Maga instructor to provide self-defense training and run drills with your construction team as well as the teams of any subcontractors you’ve hired.
Create a Threat Response Team
The team should be composed of both management and non-management construction team members who will implement the emergency response protocols you’ve established for active shooter events. Train the team to provide information to local law enforcement in the event of an active shooter incident, provide first aid to anyone who has been wounded, and identify and search for missing workers who may have evacuated the jobsite. Inform your threat response team about all workplace violence complaints and concerns filed by your workers.
Raise Awareness of Suspicious Behavior
Train your construction workers to look for and report suspicious behavior that could indicate the potential for an active shooter or other workplace violence incident. These behaviors include threatening remarks or gestures, aggressive or hostile behavior, intentional destruction of property, self-destructive behavior and talk of violence. Talk of violence includes threatening social media posts.
Workers should also report any drastic changes in the performance of their teammates, signs of depression, or signs of paranoia. While such factors do not always mean a worker will engage in violent behavior, they may still pose other risks that should be addressed.