A very real, clear and present danger lurks just beyond the consciousness of people who work together eight to ten hours a day, five to seven days a week. It is the potential for violence to occur in your workplace.
Today's tragic murders of students and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut is a grim reminder of the need for every workplace to have a safety plan and procedures in place. In line with schools nationally, Sandy Hook Elementary School had tightened up entry procedures to assure the safety of the staff and children.
According to the Wall Street Journal, "A letter sent to Sandy Hook parents earlier this year described a new security protocol put in place at the school. The protocol requires identification for most visitors who must ring a doorbell to gain entry to the school's front entrance, which is locked after 9:30 a.m.
"'If our office staff does not recognize you, you will be required to show identification with a picture ID,' the letter said." As more details emerge over the next few days, how the gunman gained entry, with these procedures in place, may or may not be identified.
I extend my most deeply felt sympathy to parents, family members, children, and the community during this time of national sorrow and grieving. Nothing will ever explain or make up for the loss of all of these lives, most so young and just starting out.
Workplaces Need Safety Plans
A workplace tragedy like this makes me want to plead with employers to develop a safety plan and procedures and limit easy access to your workplaces. Especially at back entries, where no one is assigned to watch the door for visitors, you need to ensure employee safety.
Human Resources is often an organization's first line of defense for the prevention of workplace violence. So, take responsibility, working with IT, administration, and safety staff, to limit access to your facilities and train employees in procedures to cover any potential act of violence in your workplace.
My article, Workplace Violence Can Happen Here discusses the professions in which workplace acts of violence are most likely to occur. It also discusses research that finds that workplace violence is much more likely to affect your workplace from external sources than from internal sources, as happened in today's tragedy.
You need this information to make realistic safety plans to prevent workplace violence, if you haven't already established and trained employees in violence prevention plans, you need to do so - now.
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