Have a Plan to Address the Recognized Hazards of Workplace Violence

It seems every time we turn on the news, we hear a story about a mass shooting. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has found that workplace shootings have increased by more than 10% in recent years. This increase compels employers to be aware of the risk of workplace shootings and the legal issues involved. The “Run, Hide, Fight” model that many of us have learned about is useful as a simple preparedness message for active shooter situations. However, as a planning strategy for an organization or library, it is incomplete in that it does not address the development of policies and procedures to manage an event and does not incorporate your organization’s unique characteristics, processes, and risks.

This article urges employers to adopt a plan and policy to help employees prepare if the worst-case scenario occurs. In addition to mentioning the legal issues for employers and the general duty to provide a safe workplace, the article also lists the five elements of workplace violence prevention plans.

Keep in mind that libraries are not immune to violence. We, too, have been touched by it. Library workers, their colleagues and families who have been affected by violence can attest to the devastation it can cause and the long-term effects that such an incidence can have. The topic of violence in the library workplace has been a particular concern for ALA President Loida Garcia-Febo. Recently, she put together a working group to address concerns of library workers in this area. Members of the team will hold a conversation as part of the ALA-APA Committee on the Status of Library Workers discussion at the upcoming ALA 2019 Annual Conference in Washington, DC., Sunday, June 23, 2019, 2:30 – 3:30 pm in the Marriott Marquis Hotel – Chinatown room.

Employers and employees alike must stay vigilant and be aware of our surroundings. We must also be prepared to act if a violent situation occurs while we are in the library. Employers should have policies in place which include procedures for notifying emergency responders, management, coworkers, and employees’ families. It also should address preventive measures for recognizing and reporting potential threats of workplace violence before they materialize into something more. Having plans to prevent violence in the workplace could save lives.

Resources for Coping with Workplace Violence