Preparing for the Unthinkable: The Role of Active Shooter Training in Workplace Compliance


Workplace violence can take many forms, ranging from verbal abuse to death, and can affect anyone at the worksite, including employees, clients, contractors, and visitors. Workplace violence includes any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior at work. Regardless of who it’s directed at or what form it takes, employers need to protect their staff from harm in the workplace. Let’s take a look at the role of active shooter training in workplace compliance.

Violence in the Workplace is on the Rise

Workplace violence is a significant concern for healthcare providers. Two million American workers are victims of workplace violence each year, and homicide is one of the leading causes of job-related deaths in the United States. Over 277 active shooter incidents have occurred in the past two decades — most of which occurred in businesses, schools, government offices, and other places controlled by employers.

To protect employees and combat workplace violence, employers must implement a reasonable and practical prevention program. That means a holistic approach to employee safety, including:

  • Management and worker commitment to safety
  • Comprehensive company policies indicating zero tolerance for violence
  • Periodic evaluation of prevention programs
  • Commitment to workplace culture change

Training is also a critical component of any workplace violence prevention program. Employees and management must know how to spot, report, and prevent instances of violence, to make programs effective and ingrained in workplace culture.

Healthcare employers should provide workplace violence training to demonstrate that they care about the safety of their employees, customers, and clients. Proper training helps individuals mitigate threats and save lives, and such activity is particularly critical in the healthcare industry.

Employers’ Responsibilities: Ensuring Employee Safety and Compliance with Active Shooter Training

Employers have a legal and ethical obligation to ensure the safety and well-being of their employees in the workplace, including taking reasonable steps to prevent and prepare for an active shooter or other violent incidents.

This obligation includes providing functional shooter training as part of an employee’s compliance training. Specifically, employers are responsible for the following:

  • Assessing the risk of an active shooter or other violent incident occurring in the workplace, taking into account the type of work happening, the physical environment, and the level of exposure to the public.
  • Developing and implementing a comprehensive workplace violence prevention program that includes policies and procedures for identifying and reporting potential threats, responding to violent incidents, and providing employee support and resources.
  • Providing regular and ongoing active shooter training to all employees, including new hires, as part of their compliance training.
  • Customizing the active shooter training to address the workplace’s specific needs, including the building’s physical layout, the number of employees, and the nature of the work.
  • Ensuring all employees have access to emergency communication systems and know how to use them.
  • Conducting regular drills and exercises to test the effectiveness of the workplace violence prevention program and active shooter training.
  • Reviewing and updating the workplace violence prevention program and active shooter training as needed to remain current and effective.

Failure to comply with these obligations could result in legal and financial consequences for the employer and increased risk to employees. Therefore, employers must take active shooter training and workplace violence prevention seriously and make them an integral part of their compliance training programs.

Empowering Employees with Active Shooter Training

Active shooter training is essential to employee compliance training to prepare employees for the possibility of a violent attack in the workplace. This training teaches employees how to recognize the warning signs of potential workplace violence and react if an active shooter or violent individual enters the building.

The training should include:

  • How to quickly assess a potentially dangerous situation
  • Identify exits and safe hiding places
  • Develop a plan for self-protection and evacuation
  • How to communicate with others during an active shooter situation
  • Using emergency communication systems
  • Importance of remaining quiet

Active shooter training also emphasizes the importance of situational awareness and critical thinking, including recognizing suspicious behavior and identifying escape routes. Employees will learn how to distinguish between gunfire and other noises in the workplace, such as construction or equipment noises.

The goal of active shooter training is to provide employees with the tools and knowledge necessary to respond quickly and effectively in an emergency, potentially saving lives. In addition to learning how to respond during an active shooter situation, employees may receive training on workplace violence prevention and intervention strategies to identify and mitigate potential threats before they escalate.

Creating a Culture of Safety: Incorporating Active Shooter Training into Compliance Programs

For healthcare facilities, active shooter training is even more critical due to the potential for violent incidents involving patients or their family members. Healthcare facilities can choose from a range of training programs designed specifically for their industry, including customized programs that address the unique risks and challenges facing healthcare workers.

In addition, some training programs may include tabletop exercises, drills, and simulations to test employees’ readiness and provide an opportunity to practice response techniques.

Many healthcare-specific training programs also cover workplace violence prevention strategies and interventions to identify and mitigate potentiaActive Shooter Training in Workplace Compliancel threats before they escalate.

It’s worth noting that some states have specific training requirements for healthcare providers. For example, ten states require healthcare providers to plan and provide workplace violence prevention training, including active shooter training. These states are California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York (public agencies), Oregon, and Washington.

Active Shooter Safety Planning: Where to Find Expert Guidance and Support

There are active shooter safety plan templates and guides online to help businesses and healthcare organizations develop plans for their own facilities. These resources range from free guides and checklists to comprehensive training courses and consulting services.

The Active Shooter Safety Plan Toolkit by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) gives step-by-step guidance for developing an active shooter safety plan, including identifying potential threats, preparing employees, and responding to an incident. Other resources include online courses, webinars, and forums where businesses and healthcare facilities can learn from experts and share best practices.

MedTrainer offers comprehensive compliance training programs, including active shooter and workplace violence prevention training. Our training programs are customizable to meet your organization’s specific needs and are 100% online, allowing for easy accessibility and scheduling flexibility for employees.

By partnering with MedTrainer for your compliance training needs, you can ensure that your employees prepare for potential violent incidents and that your organization is taking proactive steps to protect its workforce. Contact us today to learn more about our compliance training programs and how they can benefit your business or healthcare facility.


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