In December, the Illinois REALTORS® staff received a training session on workplace safety and specifically active shooter situations. This is an unfortunate but necessary result of the spate of gun-related incidents that have taken place at offices, schools, and other locations over the last several years. Historically, workplace violence policies have addressed traditional, but less imposing threats, such as use of hostile language or bullying. Today, workplace safety concerns must take into consideration the real threat of gun violence.

Jeffrey Bakerby Jeffrey T. Baker, Illinois REALTORS®
Associate General Counsel & Director of Legal Services

According to the Gun Violence Archive, a non-profit group that tracks incidents of gun violence, there have been well over 300 mass shootings in the United States in 2018, similar to the number from a year ago. Mass shootings are defined by that group as incidents where 4 or more people are shot or killed in the same general time and location. There are various definitions of mass shootings, public murders and the like. The statistics for all of them are profound.

Given the prevalence of these types of events, more schools, offices, and other places where the public gathers are focusing on training and preparedness. No less than 3 federal agencies produce literature and materials for use by local law enforcement, businesses, churches and schools to prepare for these types of scenarios.

Uniform among all the training and guidance materials is that organizations must begin planning for these types of scenarios. At a minimum, evacuation plans should be created and reviewed with employees. Staff should be informed of the proper steps to take should an active shooter event occur.

Risk assessments, specific location details, communication preferences and lockdown procedures could all vary depending on where your place of business is; so a custom review of the factors affecting your company should be undertaken. The FBI provides a comprehensive outline called Developing Emergency Operations Plans that can serve to guide you through the process.

As these events have become more public and seemingly more prevalent, a “best practices” program evolved, which is used by law enforcement and other organizations charged with training teachers, business leaders and others on how to respond. The most common instruction to be used is called “Run. Hide. Fight.” where individuals are taught the three most effective means for surviving an active shooter situation. More information and details on these instructions can be found in the DHS manual “Active Shooter How to Respond“. Each of the three federal agencies websites contain pamphlets, booklets and even videos that can be used as training tools for employees. Some local law enforcement agencies will even coordinate training sessions at your place of business to help prepare your staff to consider their options in one of these events.

Illinois REALTORS® believes it important to plan ahead, not just to insure safety in the workplace but also to better prepare staff for situations they may encounter outside the workplace. After all, this guidance can be applicable in any number of settings. While these types of scenarios may not necessarily be new, it’s time that workplace safety policies start incorporating them and that businesses begin training for them.