doors offer a lot of protection, says Ferraro.
He recommends channeling access through key
control points and tightly managing the details. Make
sure expired badges deny access to the wrong people.
Encourage reporting if occupants see someone walking
around without a badge or looking suspicious. Foster an
atmosphere of vigilance.
“A criminal is going to choose the easiest way or the
easiest target,” says Blythe. Monitor ingress and egress,
and don’t let employees “piggyback” – make sure every
individual enters properly. Armed guards may be controversial, but they do reduce some vulnerability. “If you
have reason to worry about a shooter, you don’t want to
bring a nightstick to a gun fight,” says Blythe.
Nevertheless, physical security is only a part of preventing workplace violence, and having training and a
comprehensive program in place are essential – and not
just for shooters. “Hostility is much more likely than
a shooting, but it often goes unreported,” says Blythe.
Hostility management training helps employees to defuse a dangerous person.
An Honest Assessment
Assuming that workplace violence won’t happen in
your building is dangerous. Don’t live in avoidance or
think that the plan you’ve had in place for 15 years is still
“As we enhance our protective and prevention
strategies, we can anticipate that the aggressors will be
evolving and should attempt to overcome them with
new innovations,” says Ferraro. “Workplace violence is
dynamic, and building owners need to keep pace.” B
Jenna M. Aker is a contributing editor for BUILDINGS.
He also suggests using guilt as a motivator. “I’ve
dealt with more murders in the workplace than I can
remember, and it’s amazing the number of people
who, after the incident, say, ‘I just knew this guy was
going to do it.’” For the rest of their lives, these people
regret not sounding an alarm.
3) Form a threat response team. “You need a multidisciplinary team that is trained and ready to respond,”
says Blythe. He suggests having representatives from
HR, corporate security, and legal services involved,
plus back-ups for each individual. Small organizations
should outsource these roles to have the right mix of
knowledge and personalities on the team.
4) Have a threat response team manual. “These
guidelines should be laid out sequentially,” says
Blythe. “For instance, what do you do when you first
hear of a threat?” Plans for every type of situation
help you to assess threats, defuse situations, and
know who to call and when. A manual should include
appropriate responses to all threats and explain their
rationale, which is important after an incident to
defend the actions taken.
The Tenant Factor
Building owners who have tenants face the challenge of forming violence prevention or response plans
around them. James McGinty, vice president, training
and safety at Covenant Security Services, Ltd., sees tenants
as creating potential communication problems.
“They have their own policies, which are often not
shared with the building owners. Most of the time,
management finds out after the fact when something
has happened.” McGinty suggests hosting awareness
programs and encouraging a building-wide atmosphere
of “if you see something, say something.”
Coleman agrees that facilities with multiple tenants
can run into communication challenges. “The tenant
may have a workplace violence prevention program, but
those plans may not be consistent with property policies,” he says. “Communication is a big issue for building owners. These challenges can impact the property,
other tenants, and victims alike, sometimes with fatal
Coleman stresses the importance of sharing infor-
mation. “If a tenant reports something to the police
and doesn’t report it to the building owner or property
manager, management is compromised. It is crucial for
building owners to encourage their tenants to share their
workplace violence prevention plans and policies with
He suggests training and tenant education programs
as ways to foster awareness and communication.
Ferraro endorses the layering of security plans.
“Building owners need their tenants to acknowledge
that workplace violence is an issue and encourage them
to have plans in place. Then, the building owner’s own
emergency plans for the entire facility are layered on
top to build an integrated plan,” he says.
Don’t Neglect Physical Security
If there’s a will, there’s a way. But don’t let that truth
cause you to neglect physical security. Access control,
security officers, and barriers like turnstiles or locked
■ BOMA’s Emergency Preparedness
Guidebook includes information
and checklists to manage work-
place violence ( www.boma.org).
■ The IFMA Foundation
( www.ifma.org) offers a publication entitled Violence in the
Workplace: Role of the Facility
■ OSHA ( www.osha.gov) shares information on
workplace violence prevention, as does the Department
of Homeland Security ( www.dhs.gov).
■ ASIS International ( www.asisonline.org) has guidelines
on prevention and response.
■ The website of the National Crime Prevention Council
( www.ncpc.org) has a section devoted to workplace
RESOURCES ON WORKPLACE
Emergency Preparedness Guidebook ThePropertyProfessional’sResourcefor DevelopingEmergencyPlansforNatural andHuman-BasedThreats LawrenceJ.Schoen,P.E.,FellowASHRAE