Guns at work: Are employers keeping their workers safe?
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Are employers doing enough to protect their employees from active shooters? And if not, does an absence of training, policies or other precautions mean employees should be allowed to take measures to protect themselves?
In response to my article on weapons at work, readers in favor of their right to carry weapons (particularly guns) to work responded, articulating two clear themes. In an effort to further more open conversation about this topic, this article will explore those points.
One point that carried across industries was how protected employees feel. From employers with no training, policies or even discussion around this type of safety issue to employers who do have training but are located in such remote places that any help would be a long time coming, readers stated they wanted to be able to carry a weapon, specifically a gun, as protection.
They felt that unless their employer could do more to ensure their safety, it was necessary for them to do it. Thus, it was not just their right to bear arms, it was a necessity to ensure they felt safe at work.
The second point that was made extremely clear was that anyone who was able to bring a weapon to work must have the appropriate training and screening. What was considered appropriate varied, but the common denominators included psychological testing and specialized firing tests (specifically showing the ability to handle a weapon under stress or in a stressful situation).
In short, readers who responded in favor of weapons at work supported them for specific reasons under specific parameters.
Though there are any number of weapons people could carry to work, the conversation usually revolves around guns. In addition, when discussing workplace violence, the conversation further tightens around the concept of an active shooter.
In response, many employers have instituted zero-tolerance violence and weapons policies. Others have created emergency action plans and offered active-shooter scenario training.
But does everyone do it? Should it be a requirement like fire safety, with drills on a regular basis and placards around buildings reminding everyone what to do? What is reasonable? And what if there is a gap between what an employer determines to be a safe environment and what an employee feels is safe?
Again, there is such a gap between what is discussed and what is needed that the next best step is to take a step. In other words, something should be done to address safety at work.
Whether you work for Homeland Security and that simply means more frequent training, or you work at Milt's Flooring and it means you actually gather the 42 employees together and discuss what you would do in an emergency situation, something should be done. Sweeping reforms, if they happen, will happen in response to some terrible situation. Instead of waiting for that to happen, start the discussion now.
Here are some resources to help:
- Department of Homeland Security Active Shooter Booklet
- U.S. Department of Labor Workplace Violence Program
- OSHA Fact Sheet on Workplace Violence
- OSHA Information on Workplace Violence
Point of clarification: In the previous article found here, reference to Ellen Savage's HR California Alert was limited to the two bulleted statements and the sentence immediately following the bullets. The sentence beginning "Further..." and those that follow, were the author's.
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