How to Respond to Active Shooters in a Retail Establishment

November 18, 2019

Even before “active shooter” became a mainstay in today’s discussions, workplace violence has long been a concern in the corporate world. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines workplace violence as “any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site.”

While federal OSHA has issued guidance on workplace violence in general industries for years, CAL/OSHA is looking to draft a regulation that requires employers in general industries to create workplace violence prevention plans that include specific action plans for dealing with active shooters. Here is what you need to know.

  • In California, there is a movement by CAL/OSHA toward requiring a written workplace active shooter policy. If this is passed into law, any company doing business in California will need a formal program.
  • Retailers could have a harder time enforcing the policies in a workplace violence program because of the high rates of turnover. People come and go so often it’s hard for employers to keep everyone trained on the protocol.
  • The main training components of every active shooter program are pretty simple. Teach people where the exits are and how to get out. There should also be a chain of command where one person in charge can help cut through the chaos and remind people of the escape protocol. That person will signal to everyone what is happening and what to do.
  • There also needs to be special training and a separate plan for employees and retail guests with special needs. Training on even the most simple of plans can help head off violence and provide a better sense of security for employees.
  • CAL/OSHA is leading the way, but expect to see enforcement from other state plans and federal OSHA as well.