Many thought it was simply a routine fire drill. Some reported hearing shots. Others witnessed coworkers running while they themselves were barricaded behind their desks or huddled in conference rooms.

One employee on the second floor heard gunshots and looked out the window to see what no one expects to see at their workplace – an active shooter.

This was the scene Monday afternoon when Nasim Aghdam opened fire at YouTube’s offices in San Bruno, California, shooting and injuring three people.

With the unfortunate increase of active shooter situations in the workplace, employers should examine whether they are prepared if faced with an active shooter situation at the workplace.

As discussed in a previous post on the topic, Ohio employers have a duty to protect their employees and provide a safe workplace. Employers are encouraged to adopt procedures for handling an active shooter situation, including implementing an emergency action plan and evacuation procedures.

Employers should also consider holding training drills in order to implement and practice these procedures. Training is a key component of keeping employees safe – it both equips employees to effectively respond to a potential situation and minimizes potential loss.

During these drills, employees should be trained regarding:

  • How to recognize an active shooter situation;
  • How the company will alert employees to a potential situation;
  • What to do;
  • Where to go;
  • How to check in so the company can account for employees;
  • A procedure for alerting authorities; and
  • How to react when law enforcement arrives.

The Department of Homeland Security offers HR professionals active shooter preparedness materials on its site to assist employers looking for additional information.

While it is impossible for employers to prevent all acts of violence, employers can take steps to reduce the risks and increase employees’ ability to respond should an active shooter situation arise.