Are you safe at work? Six Questions To Ask Your Employer

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With the Las Vegas tragedy still fresh on our minds, workplace fears rose again yesterday after a disgruntled employee shot and killed three people at Advanced Granite Solutions in Edgewood, Maryland. In the aftermath of harm, the shortfalls of protective policy always have one consistent theme: Security standards do not rise to exceed the expectations of policy. They falter to the lowest level of tolerated practice.

While security standards may vary between industry, the one constant theme is that each and every employee deserves to stay safe. Whether you’re a senior manager at your office or a recent graduate interviewing with a prospective employer, it’s never too early or too late to ask about the security situation at your workplace. 

Here are six questions to help you learn more:

Ask about “Employee Safety Surveys”

A safety survey should be repeated at regular intervals and should cover everything from how staff feels about management’s commitment to safety, to the effectiveness of safety training, and ease of reporting concerns. The answers should provide employers with insights into favorable feedback, procedures in need of improvement, as well as areas of new concern.

 

Ask about the determining factors for when to evacuate and when to shelter-in-place? Who is the decision maker? 

The difference between when to evacuate and when to shelter in place is pretty cut and dry. As general rule, if the threat is external to the workplace (high winds, falling trees, severe storms) you stay inside and shelter-in-place where it is safe. Conversely, if the threat is internal to the workplace, (fire, gas leak, active shooter) you should evacuate to the nearest safe-haven. It is very important to not mistake accountability for survivability.  When in doubt, the best practice is always to put as much time and distance between you and the threat as possible. 

 

Ask when the last security assessment was conducted? Who conducted it? What were the findings? What enhancements were recommended? What actions were taken? When is the next assessment scheduled?

There is often a very wide divide between policy and practice; between what an organization says they can do and what they can actually accomplish. However unlikely it may be for a business to be directly targeted, the reality is that too few businesses have taken any proactive measures to effectively reduce their vulnerability. Business leaders have a responsibility to understand the limitations of antiquated measures and learn as much as they can about the proactive practices required in today’s operating environment.

 

Ask if threat assessments are a required part of the employee termination process.

The workplace environment is often where a grievance is first initiated, where the ideation that “something could be done” is first conceived, and where the “research and planning” of an attack plan can be easily concealed behind everyday action. Corporate responsibility may not be to those who were fired, but it is to those still hired. The foreseeable and inherent risk of violence by disgruntled and recently terminated employees is a concern every business should take into consideration.

 

Ask if there is a Crisis Management Team

A Crisis Management Team or “CMT” typically includes executive directors, heads of department, staff representatives, and media advisors who work together to protect an organization against the adverse effects of crisis. The CMT’s job is to ensure the certainty of safety by working together to detect the warning signs of concern, table-top “what if” scenarios, and prepare best practices for emergency situations.

 

Ask how you can help.

Everyday safety requires the participation of everyone. The goal is to work together to prevent tragic outcome from ever becoming a reality. Everyday vigilance is a small price to pay for the liberties and the freedoms which flow so freely from peace.