WIS­DOM IN THE WORK­PLACE

Make your work­place safer.

American Survival Guide - - TABLE OF CONTENTS - By Sean Cur­tis

We of­ten ded­i­cate a great deal of con­sid­er­a­tion and dis­cus­sion to post-apoc­a­lyp­tic sur­vival sce­nar­ios—or, per­haps more rea­son­ably, so­ci­etal up­heaval set­tings—as a re­sult of which we need to bug out or bug in to en­dure. While one is a lit­tle more likely than the other, real threats face us ev­ery day in the place we spend 40 or more hours a week: the work­place.

Have you given much thought to work­place sur­vival? Have you con­sid­ered what threats truly await you? Sure, you prob­a­bly fig­ured out pretty quickly that Carl has hal­i­to­sis, and Sarah loves to talk about her cats, but those traps are not truly life threat­en­ing. Have you done a risk as­sess­ment on your work­place?

Con­sid­er­ing the amount of time we ded­i­cate to work­ing, we re­ally should de­tect, an­a­lyze, mit­i­gate and pre­pare for real threats there.

When ap­proach­ing the work en­vi­ron­ment, it is of­ten dif­fi­cult to as­sess with a cool, an­a­lyt­i­cal mind. You must di­vest your­self of your at­tach­ments and look at your work­place as you would a place that is not so fa­mil­iar.

ONCE YOU HAVE A GOOD IDEA OF THE HIGHER-PROB­A­BIL­ITY THREATS YOU FACE, YOU NEED TO ASK YOUR­SELF WHAT MEA­SURES YOU CAN TAKE TO MIN­I­MIZE THEIR IM­PACT BE­FORE THEY HAP­PEN.

Take stock of your as­sets and li­a­bil­i­ties; then, give some fo­cus to the very real threats that could hap­pen there. La­bel these with your best guess of prob­a­bil­ity, and then mit­i­gate what you can. Some­times, you can af­fect change for the en­tire of­fice; other times, you must rely and fo­cus solely on your­self.

Take a look at these threats with the con­cepts of max­i­mum pro­tec­tion of life and self-preser­va­tion in mind.

NAT­U­RAL THREATS

When con­duct­ing a threat anal­y­sis, we can di­vide our cat­e­gories into man-made and nat­u­ral. While the “nat­u­ral” cat­e­gory usu­ally in­cludes weather events, earth­quakes, fires and the like, man-made events can be a bit more com­plex and re­quire dif­fer­ent re­sponses.

Take a look at the real nat­u­ral threats in your area. Re­search when they last hap­pened and seek any data con­cern­ing when they might hap­pen again. For in­stance, a tsunami is highly im­prob­a­ble in Colorado, but wild­fire is def­i­nitely a con­sid­er­a­tion. If you work in Hawaii, a bliz­zard is a min­i­mal risk, but vol­ca­noes will be on your list if one is nearby.

You must give an hon­est as­sess­ment to each of the threats rel­e­vant to your area and have a planned re­sponse for each of them. Speak with some­one who has worked at your work­place for a long time and find out what has his­tor­i­cally oc­curred. Then, find out how lead­er­ship re­sponded. There are likely valu­able lessons for you to dis­cover. Learn from the fail­ures and suc­cesses of your pre­de­ces­sors.

My of­fice has his­tor­i­cally high-pro­file risks from floods, tor­na­does, bliz­zards and wild­fires. On the other end of the scale, there are min­i­mal risks for earth­quakes.

MAN-MADE THREATS

This cat­e­gory is as com­plex as the hu­man mind. Es­sen­tially, there two cat­e­gories of risk: ex­ter­nal and in­ter­nal. Ex­ter­nal and/or in­ter­nal threats could in­volve work­place vi­o­lence, in­clud­ing ac­tive killer sce­nar­ios. They could also in­clude bomb­ings, ar­son and a cat­e­gory of in­ci­dents such as de­lib­er­ate power out­ages and hazmat threats.

Ex­ter­nal risks rep­re­sent all the in­di­vid­u­als out­side the em­ploy of your agency or busi­ness. These could be cus­tomers or com­plete strangers. If you work at a tex­tile plant, and the cus­tomers you serve are deal­ers who push the fi­nal prod­uct on to con­sumers, you can likely rel­e­gate this to min­i­mal risk. How­ever, if you work for a com­pany or gov­ern­ment agency

for which you might have a hand in af­fect­ing ma­jor life changes for your cus­tomers—say, the De­part­ment of Hu­man Ser­vices—this could very likely be­come a high-risk sce­nario. If you’re mak­ing or com­mu­ni­cat­ing de­ci­sions for peo­ple that have very real, life-al­ter­ing con­se­quences, it would be wise to equate high emo­tion with higher po­ten­tial risk.

In­ter­nal threats are ei­ther your co-work­ers or peo­ple re­lated to them. If one of your peers has an abu­sive spouse and they come to the work­place to set­tle some per­sonal score, this could cre­ate ram­i­fi­ca­tions for ev­ery­one at work. Like­wise, work­place bul­ly­ing, af­fairs and ter­mi­na­tions are also po­ten­tial trig­gers for health haz­ards. Keep in mind that peo­ple do not “snap,” as we of­ten hear. Work­place

IF YOU CAN­NOT IM­PRESS UPON LEAD­ER­SHIP THE IM­POR­TANCE OF PREPA­RA­TION, YOU HAVE THE SOLE RE­SPON­SI­BIL­ITY TO SAVE YOUR­SELF IN TIMES OF CRI­SIS.

vi­o­lence stud­ies have re­vealed that ap­prox­i­mately 85 per­cent of peo­ple broad­cast their in­ten­tions be­fore they act. They ei­ther tell some­one close to them or of­ten post things on so­cial me­dia. That’s a huge clue ... if you can catch wind of it.

In 2004, a man in Granby, Colorado, ter­ror­ized an en­tire town when he be­gan mow­ing down build­ings with an ar­mored bull­dozer he’d welded up in his shop. This took a lot of plan­ning and ef­fort. Some towns­peo­ple were aware of his dis­plea­sure with the town board re­gard­ing a zon­ing dis­pute for some time. The at­tack stymied the lo­cal con­stab­u­lary—un­til the bull­dozer got stuck and the driver shot him­self.

Re­mem­ber that the pri­mary ob­jec­tive of law en­force­ment in any type of ac­tive killer sce­nario is to im­me­di­ately en­gage and stop the threat. There­fore, do not present your­self in a threat­en­ing man­ner. Evac­u­ate with hands up, and pro­vide any de­tails about the shooter’s where­abouts and de­scrip­tion if you can. Do not ex­pect po­lice to stop and at­tend to your wounds if the killer is still ac­tive. Move quickly away from dan­ger, hope­fully to a pre­ar­ranged muster point.

My work­place is high risk be­cause of the na­ture of the job, along with the fact that there is a rail­road line im­me­di­ately out­side that trans­ports haz­ardous ma­te­ri­als on a daily ba­sis. For me, both ex­ter­nal and in­ter­nal threats are al­ways a con­sid­er­a­tion.

MIT­I­GA­TION

Once you have a good idea of the higher-prob­a­bil­ity threats you face, you need to ask your­self what mea­sures you can take to min­i­mize their im­pact be­fore they hap­pen.

For in­stance, cre­at­ing a cul­ture of col­lec­tive safety can pay ma­jor div­i­dends. By re­ward­ing be­hav­iors that im­prove the safe­keep­ing of ev­ery­one at the work­place, you in­crease your ef­fec­tive out­reach and de­tec­tion. When ev­ery­one re­al­izes se­cu­rity is their re­spon­si­bil­ity, they chip in and re­port things, thereby im­prov­ing lead­er­ship’s aware­ness and giv­ing them more time to re­act. Keep in mind that se­cu­rity is al­ways at odds with con­ve­nience, and there can be an of­fice cul­ture or co-work­ers who will re­sist these ini­tia­tives.

Phys­i­cal se­cu­rity mea­sures can be as­sessed and up­dated to re­flect evolv­ing threats. Con­sider how air­port se­cu­rity changed af­ter 9/11. A locked door or key­card ac­cess sys­tem might just make the dif­fer­ence in de­ter­ring an ex­ter­nal threat. Per­haps a cam­era sys­tem might give you the re­ac­tion time you need to save lives.

Stock your work­place with first aid and sur­vival sup­plies. This might seem odd at first blush, but if you have to shel­ter in place for any pe­riod of time, it’s a great in­vest­ment.

RE­SPONSES TO THREATS

Re­gard­less of the cat­e­gory, there are three gen­eral re­sponses: evac­u­a­tion, shel­ter­ing in place and ac­tive killer.

Evac­u­a­tion is pretty clear-cut and should be prac­ticed at least once an­nu­ally. Have a muster or re­uni­fi­ca­tion point at which at­ten­dance can be checked against a con­tin­u­ally up­dated list of em­ploy­ees. Make sure em­ploy­ees un­der­stand the endgame so they can de­vi­ate from a spe­cific plan if need be, as long as they reach the re­uni­fi­ca­tion point or com­mu­ni­cate with a su­per­vi­sor by con­tin­gency.

Shel­ter­ing in place min­i­mizes risk from ex­ter­nal threats such as tor­na­does or earth­quakes. Have a plan to gather in in­ter­nal rooms or other ap­pro­pri­ate spa­ces that are clear of glass win­dows and other po­ten­tial haz­ards. Have these rooms stocked with emer­gency sup­plies. The great­est threat of earth­quakes in First World coun­tries is to peo­ple flee­ing build­ings and be­ing struck by fall­ing de­bris such as bricks or bro­ken glass, so do what you can to re­duce ex­po­sure to these haz­ards.

The ac­tive killer cat­e­gory is pretty straight­for­ward. You need only look at the world news any given week to find ref­er­ence to this grow­ing threat.

The U.S. gov­ern­ment has sug­gested “Run, Hide, Fight” as a re­sponse pri­or­ity list in these sce­nar­ios. While this is a great plan, it is not a train­ing method. “ALICE,” which stands for Alert, Lock­down,

EX­TER­NAL RISKS REP­RE­SENT ALL THE IN­DI­VID­U­ALS OUT­SIDE THE EM­PLOY OF YOUR AGENCY OR BUSI­NESS. THESE COULD BE CUS­TOMERS OR COM­PLETE STRANGERS.

In­form, Counter and Evac­u­ate, is a com­pre­hen­sive sys­tem that teaches peo­ple op­tion-based re­sponses to ac­tive killer threats. By train­ing in ALICE, em­ploy­ees learn to pri­or­i­tize avoid­ance by flee­ing a life-threat­en­ing sce­nario. Only when this pos­si­bil­ity is ex­hausted do we need to hide or fight; and, if forced into this sce­nario, we set the bat­tle­ground to our ad­van­tage and arm our­selves with any­thing avail­able.

TRAIN­ING

“Train­ing” first refers to prac­tic­ing your best pro­ce­dures within your work­place, whether this is an evac­u­a­tion, shel­ter­ing in place or an ac­tive killer re­sponse. It can also in­clude how to han­dle se­cu­rity sys­tems (such as key-coded doors) and pro­ce­dures (such as chal­leng­ing peo­ple who try to ride your coat­tails through a se­cure en­try).

Em­ploy­ees who prac­tice es­tab­lished re­sponses to var­i­ous threats will know how to act with­out wast­ing pre­cious time. In ac­tive killer sce­nar­ios, I can­not stress enough that you need to evac­u­ate the build­ing. When we con­sider that the re­sponse for threats such as fire, hazmat and flood­ing is to move away from them, it’s ridicu­lous to think that we should re­act dif­fer­ently for an ac­tive killer sce­nario. Lock­down and fight­ing should be choices of last re­sort, so strive to get out of, and away from, the sit­u­a­tion.

In my work­place, we have trained many of the em­ploy­ees in first aid and CPR. We also have trained in ALICE, shel­ter­ing in place and evac­u­a­tions.

WORK­PLACE VI­O­LENCE STUD­IES HAVE RE­VEALED THAT AP­PROX­I­MATELY 85 PER­CENT OF PEO­PLE BROAD­CAST THEIR IN­TEN­TIONS BE­FORE THEY ACT. THEY EI­THER TELL SOME­ONE CLOSE TO THEM OR OF­TEN POST THINGS ON SO­CIAL ME­DIA. THAT’S A HUGE CLUE ... IF YOU CAN CATCH WIND OF IT.

COM­MU­NI­CA­TION

Comms usu­ally fail in emer­gen­cies; it’s "Murphy’s Law" at its best. Whether the cel­lu­lar sys­tem

be­comes over­whelmed or elec­tri­cal ser­vice fails, you should strive for re­dun­dancy.

A PA (pub­lic ad­dress) sys­tem is ex­tremely ef­fec­tive and can be used to com­mu­ni­cate live data to re­spon­ders and evac­uees. Some­times, a bull­horn or good, old-fash­ioned yelling can get the job done. Re­gard­less, have pri­mary, sec­ondary and ter­tiary backup plans.

Train­ing can of­ten over­ride the need for com­mu­ni­ca­tion, but if a train de­rail­ment sud­denly re­quires you to evac­u­ate via dif­fer­ent routes than those you pre­vi­ously trained with, you need to be able to no­tify em­ploy­ees of the de­vi­a­tion of plan.

My of­fice has ac­cess to a pro­gram called Ever­bridge. All em­ploy­ees are signed up, and emer­gency com­mu­niqués can be sent out via cell­phone or com­puter should the need arise. Hav­ing the ca­pa­bil­ity to call an au­di­ble dur­ing a cri­sis out­side your trained pro­ce­dures is para­mount.

COMMS USU­ALLY FAIL IN EMER­GEN­CIES; IT’S "MURPHY’S LAW" AT ITS BEST. WHETHER THE CEL­LU­LAR SYS­TEM BE­COMES OVER­WHELMED OR ELEC­TRI­CAL SER­VICE FAILS, YOU SHOULD STRIVE FOR RE­DUN­DANCY.

LONE WOLF OR AL­PHA

De­pend­ing on the re­cep­tiv­ity of lead­er­ship to your threat as­sess­ment, you might find your­self mak­ing sur­vival de­ci­sions in a vac­uum.

If you can pro­mote this idea with­out an at­tached stigma, run with it. More lead­ers are will­ing to con­sider emer­gency plan­ning as a re­sult of the preva­lent threat of ac­tive shoot­ers pro­vid­ing am­ple ex­am­ples in so many work­places. No leader wants to ap­pear un­pre­pared—even if the prepara­tory ef­forts only ap­pear to mit­i­gate li­a­bil­ity.

Use this to your ad­van­tage. Look for train­ing and sup­port re­sources within your lo­cal gov­ern­ment and uti­lize any al­lo­cated funds wisely to net the great­est ben­e­fit to your threat par­a­digm. An armed guard might be a great re­source, but sim­ple con­trolled points of en­try, ac­com­pa­nied by strict train­ing and en­force­ment on pro­ce­dures, might be a wiser in­vest­ment.

If you can­not im­press upon lead­er­ship the im­por­tance of prepa­ra­tion, you have the sole re­spon­si­bil­ity to save your­self in times of cri­sis. Study your work en­vi­ron­ment and con­sider how best to es­cape it; get cre­ative!

Eval­u­ate what threats you might ac­tu­ally face, and think about what you can do to per­son­ally mit­i­gate them. Keep sup­plies in your of­fice or ve­hi­cle that will en­able you to get home. Think about what routes you might take to get home and what sup­plies you might need to get there. Think about con­tin­gen­cies and com­pli­cated in­ci­dents. Then, lay out some ba­sic plans. Any ef­fort you in­vest now will save you time in a true emer­gency.

Right: Chances are, if you can see the threat, they can see you. You should have se­cure and dis­creet hid­ing lo­ca­tions planned be­fore a de­ranged at­tacker comes walk­ing into your build­ing.

Be­low: Con­sider how you might deal with long hall­ways in your work­place. You are sta­tis­ti­cally bet­ter off run­ning from an ac­tive killer than hid­ing from one.

Above: This tanker car is car­ry­ing 33,700 gal­lons of propane. Note the prox­im­ity to build­ings. Have a plan for this. It doesn’t have to ex­plode; a sim­ple leak could force an evac­u­a­tion out­side your nor­mal planned route.

Above: Some sit­u­a­tions, such as small of­fice fires, can be ad­dressed by staff un­til first re­spon­ders ar­rive. Know where fire ex­tin­guish­ers and hoses are lo­cated—and how to use them.

Above: Work­place in­va­sions of­ten de­velop into hostage sit­u­a­tions. Re­duce the chances of this hap­pen­ing to you by know­ing nearby hid­ing places and es­cape routes.

Ar­chi­tec­tural struc­tures, such as this faux wall, can some­times hide ex­its and other as­sets needed in emer­gen­cies.

Dou­ble doors with panic bars are pretty stan­dard in many of­fices and pub­lic build­ings. These are also equipped with mag­netic re­leases that al­low them to close at the push of a re­mote but­ton.

While this is a strong deter­rent for unau­tho­rized ac­cess, it must be im­ple­mented with train­ing so that “tail­gaters” do not fol­low autho­rized per­son­nel through an en­try point.

While the exit sign pointed out this es­cape route, there is no in­di­ca­tion on the other side of this wall for the fire ex­tin­guisher.

Key card or fob ac­cess can help pre­vent a great deal of un­wanted ac­cess, as well as pro­vide the abil­ity to track com­ings and go­ings.

How does your work­place in­ter­face with the pub­lic? Higher-risk lo­ca­tions should con­sider im­ple­ment­ing de­ter­rents and safe­guards.

Many peo­ple in the au­thor’s of­fice did not know about ex­its on the op­po­site side of the build­ing from where they worked. Get fa­mil­iar with all your ex­its, in­clud­ing win­dows.

A peep hole is some­times a great so­lu­tion to see­ing who’s on the other side of the door. That would com­pro­mise the fire rat­ing of the doors shown here, how­ever, so a cam­era/mon­i­tor sys­tem was in­stalled.

Not only will these mir­rors help you keep your cof­fee in your cup, they can pro­vide crit­i­cal in­for­ma­tion be­fore you com­mit to a turn when mak­ing an es­cape dur­ing an ac­tive killer or fire sce­nario.

Near left: First aid boxes such as this one are of­ten in­stalled in com­mon em­ployee ar­eas. Make sure they are kept stocked and up­dated so they are ready in case of an emer­gency.

Above: With this sim­ple sys­tem in­stalled, no em­ploy­ees need an­swer the door blindly.

Left: Each em­ployee in their work area needs at least a pri­mary and sec­ondary route to es­cape the build­ing, de­pend­ing on the threat.

Bot­tom: Con­sider what kind of weather your ac­cess con­trol de­vices might be ex­posed to, and choose ac­cord­ingly.

Be­low: El­e­va­tors are al­most al­ways a bad plan in emer­gen­cies. They are not fast enough and could be dis­abled in fire or ex­treme weather sit­u­a­tions.

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