Indiana is made up of hardworking organizations and businesses that impact the Hoosier economy and its citizens’ lives. Safeguarding these workplaces from vulnerabilities and potential risks is important to sustain the growth of our communities. Workplace security involves awareness of potential threats and preparation to respond in any potentially hazardous situation. The Indiana Department of Homeland Security encourages all Indiana employers and employees to share the responsibility of securing their facilities.
The most overlooked threats are ones that cause unintentional damage. Threats such as fires and severe weather can happen at any time. Employers should make sure employees are properly trained on what to do in case of a fire emergency or severe weather emergency such as storms, tornadoes, lightning and flooding. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated that fires and explosions accounted for 148 workplace deaths in 2013. Follow these guidelines to ensure a safer workplace:
- Know all of the fire exits, evacuation plans and potential fire hazards.
- If there are fire extinguishers, employees should be properly trained on how to use them.
- Buildings should meet all the Indiana building codes and standards.
- Create different severe weather emergency plans.
- Make sure to have an emergency preparedness kit.
- Always have at least one NOAA weather radio and frequently check the weather forecast.
Workplace security also involves threats to the well-being of others and affects everyone. Neglecting indicators of potential violence from employees, coworkers and acquaintances can lead to workplace violence which can include harassment, shooting, bomb threats and or sabotage. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), approximately 2 million American workers report having been victims of workplace violence each year with many cases going unreported.
Domestic violence can also be a concern, with its ability to escalate to a workplace violence situation. The BLS estimated in 2014 that 403 of the 4,679 fatal workplace injuries were workplace homicides. Early detection of potential workplace violence can reduce the frequency of these incidents.
Listed below are ways to become prepared for these types of threats:
- Identify suspicious or unusual behaviors.
- Have an emergency plan and evacuation plan.
- Receive training on workplace violence or implement a program.
- Consider having a zero tolerance policy for workplace violence incidents.
- Receive active shooter and bomb threat training.
- Always ask for assistance, never try to resolve the situation by yourself.
- Consider employee assistance programs that offer mental health and support.
- Report any suspicious behavior to the supervisor or security personnel.
In the event of any disruption of operations, always follow the Continuity of Operations Plan or COOP. The COOP is a plan that identifies the essential functions of a business and ensures that those functions can be continued shortly after or during the incident.