Workplace Violence

Safety Moment

What is workplace violence?

Workplace violence is “any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at work,” from verbal threats to physical confrontations, and in some rare cases, gunfire.

What are the warning signs of a violent employee?

In many cases, there are early warning signs of a potentially violent employee, which may not be taken as seriously as they should or are not communicated to the people who could take action. Warning signs of a violent employee can be some behaviors or actions such as depression, paranoia, recent acquisition of a weapon, and talking about or sharing a video or article of a violent incident in another workplace. 

It is important that you report any warning signs to your supervisor, manager, or HR department without any fear of repercussions or retaliation.

In extreme cases, workplace violence can escalate to an active shooter situation. Unforunately, active shooter situations are becoming all too common. While the odds of being involved in an active shooter event are remote, the randomness of the act itself, that it can happen anywhere at any time, means that everyone is at risk.

How can I know if an active shooter event is taking place?

There are no common characteristics of an active shooter situation, as each is very different. However, there are some things to know to be prepared:

  • Unpredictable: They can occur anywhere at any time.
  • Escalation: It will evolve quickly
  • Random: Victims are typically random
  • Survival: It’s key to have a plan and understand your surroundings

What should I do in an active shooter situation?

In the event of an active shooter situation, you will have to make decisions based on the circumstances to run, hide, or fight to protect yourself. 


RUN - If it is possible, try to run or escape the situation.

  • Have an escape route and plan in mind
  • Evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow
  • Leave your belongings behind
  • Help others escape, if possible
  • Prevent individuals from entering an area where the active shooter may be
  • Keep your hands visible
  • Follow the instructions of any police officers
  • Do not attempt to move wounded people
  • Call 911 when you are safe

HIDE - If escape is not possible, consider these options to hide from the shooter.

  • Be out of the active shooter’s view
  • Make sure you have protection if shots are fired in your direction
  • Turn off lights
  • Barricade the door with heavy furniture
  • Hide behind large items
  • Silence your cell phone and/or any devices
  • Turn off any source of noise (e.g., radios, televisions)
  • Remain quiet and calm
  • If possible, dial 911 to alert police to the active shooter’s location (if you cannot speak, leave the line open and allow the dispatcher to listen)

FIGHT - Only use this as a last resort or if your life is in imminent danger.

  • Attempt to incapacitate the shooter
  • Be as aggressive as possible
  • Throw items and improvise weapons
  • Yell
  • Above all, commit to your actions and follow through


Remember, while an active shooter situation is rare, it can happen at any time to anyone. Always take note of your immediate surroundings and challenge yourself with the question, “What would I do if this happened now?”