That Could Never Happen To Me. But, what if?
This is a question I have had to ask myself after hearing about recent violent events. I have come to the correct conclusion that I have responsibility for workplace safety and national security. No, I am not a member of law enforcement, branch of the military or Homeland Security. I am however a part of the American Public.
Although I may not have experienced workplace violence or a terrorism act, I am still part of the fabric of America and the threat is real and present. In fact, roughly 2 million workers a year are affected by some form of workplace violence, according to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration. This includes everything from verbal abuse to physical assaults to homicide.
All of us are woven together and form this nation. We should be ready, empowered, aware, resilient and vigilant concerning the risk we all face in the workplace and as Americans outside the workplace. It’s an unpleasant subject, but a necessary one.
What can you do?
Awareness and preparedness are what we each can maintain to help ourselves and others.
What tools do you need?
Your best weapon in any situations is your brain. It’s your ability to observe what is happening around you and making an assessment of that situation while it is developing. If we see something unusual, suspicious, uncomfortable, or dangerous while it is developing, we have the best opportunity to avoid it, get away from it, and notify the proper authorities so that they can handle the situation. Our ability to be proactive is better than our response in being “reactive.” I recently read an article that stated, “As any football player knows, action is always faster than reaction.”
Where do you start?
I make it a habit to know the building evacuation plan of my work. I also know where the fire alarms and emergency phone numbers are and ensure they are easily accessible. In my cell phone directory is an entry for ICE (in case of emergency) and it contains my husband’s phone number in case something happens where I cannot respond to questions or my phone is lost. Emergency Personnel know to look for this entry in your phone.
At work, I am aware of where the exits are and yes I have taken the stairs at least once to be familiar with them in case I have to use them. The numbers for the security desk, receptionist or manager is in my phone, to be located and used quickly. I will not inhibit my daily activities but I try to be aware of my surroundings and intentionally observe what is going on around me.
I make it a habit to speak with and become familiar with building security personnel, managers and others that I work with on a regular basis. We are the community that safeguard one another and may be the first to assist if anything unusual happens. This is only the start. Taking advantage of security training, emergency planning, drills and other training is important and should be both encouraged and participated in.
Homeland Security has a saying, “If you see something, say something.” You may feel very inadequate about reporting something you see. Turn quickly to someone you trust and allow them to be a filter for you. If it is during the workday and certainly at the worksite, report it to your supervisor.
Remember, most of us will never experience any of what we currently hear in the news. But, all of us have a responsibility for workplace safety and the security of this great nation. Do your part and let’s keep each other safe.
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