How to prepare and react to workplace violence

(WISH Photo/Tim McNicholas)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Security consultants are advising businesses how to prepare to handle workplace violence in light of the fatal shooting at the Cummins plant in Seymour.

Investigators said that’s where employee 37-year-old Qing Chen shot and killed his manager, 49-year-old Ward Edwards, before turning the gun on himself.

According the U.S. Department of Labor, there were 749 fatal cases of workplace violence across the country in 2014. Of those, 25 happened in Indiana.

Thomas Wright with Safety Systems of Indiana consults with schools and private businesses. He does a risk assessment, evaluates current policies on workplace violence, then makes recommendations for improvement.

His goal is not only to ensure people are safe but that they know what to do when a situation arises.

“We have lots of policies at our jobs but a lot of people don’t know what all of them are,” he said.

And the one that’s most important to Wright is how a workplace keeps its employees safe when a dangerous event occurs.

“There’s no blanket way to handle these situations,” he said.

Workplace violence can range from a verbal argument between two people to what happened at Cummins in Seymour.

Wright says the first step in a solid policy is making sure employees are trained on how to implement it.

“It’s difficult for us to just say, ‘we’ve got a policy and everything’s okay.’ There’s got to be more to it than writing a policy and sticking it in a book on a shelf somewhere,” he said.

The next step is making sure employees are quickly notified of the situation and how to react. Wright said that could be done with a text alert or announcement over a PA system. Cummins employee Elijah Brown says he was notified there was a shootout on the test side of the factory over a radio.

“We started to hear ‘shots fired, you need to get out, everybody evacuate.’ So we all just got out as safely and as quickly as we could,” Brown said.

“In this case, he ran, which for him that was great,” added Wright. “For (Cummins), that was probably just fine as far as their policies go. In other scenarios that may not have worked.”

But as long as employees know what to do when the time comes, Wright said companies can find solace in knowing they had a policy in place.

“Did we prepare for it, did we train for it, and how are we going to prove that we did all that in an effort to save lives,” he said.

Wright added that new technology and changes in laws are also making it so workplaces can better notify their employees when a dangerous situation occurs.

“We’ve trained for fifty or sixty years on fire response, on how we have fire drills in school and the alarms that are required by federal law to be in every single building. The federal law’s changing with the National Fire Protection Agency that they’re going to start requiring mass notification systems to be in buildings that are occupied as well,” he said.

For more information on Safety Systems of Indiana, click here.

Comments are closed.