Managing the Workplace Threat Level
Thank you to my partners at Newegg Logistics for supporting my thought-provoking content on their website BLOG. While not the warm and fuzzy content we are normally used to seeing in these types of venues, it is important that we face difficult, cultural issues head-on and not say this could never happen to me or to my company, so I do not need to take action. Also, this is not a political statement on gun control. This is a statement about mitigating the horrendous impact of violence in the American workplace.
The shooting at the FedEx facility in Indianapolis was a tragedy that will affect everyone employed at the Ground operations center, their families, and all of FedEx to some degree. The company already has robust security in place at its global facilities, along with a focus on employee safety, which also holds true for their primary competitor, UPS. It is now likely that medium- to large-sized companies across America will need to refocus their efforts on additional facility security, to thwart armed intruders and minimize the resulting mayhem and casualties.
Additionally, the horrific incident also focused our attention on the need for employees to easily communicate their status to friends and relatives. I served FedEx for 35 years across multiple positions and I can attest to the company’s commitment to creating safe and secure work environments. However, as workplace violence increases in both public and non-public work environments, workplace security must be re-engineered across the US to defend against the increasing threat of violence.
Employee Communications During and After Intruder-Driven Events
Cell Phone Bans: FedEx took some heat in the press about their cell phone ban that meant employees at the Indianapolis operation center could not easily communicate their status immediately after the event, to friends and relatives. Smartphones are banned in numerous FedEx hubs and operations centers as they can be a distraction to staff, which is a huge danger when working in the vicinity of fast-moving sorting belts and machines. This safety policy is commonplace in these types of challenging work environments across the US and understandable.
Employee Emergency Procedures and Communications: Managing communications and directions for fleeing employees during an active shooter event is a near-impossible condition to control. In thousands of companies, policies are already in place to manage this, but in most cases, will need to be further defined. Today, employees in high-rise office buildings practice emergency evacuation protocol in the event of a fire. Similar training should be implemented so that employees know what to do in the event of an active shooter on-premises.
An employee’s right to easily communicate their status to friends or family after these types of events must also be further defined. Local authorities take control of active shooting events and must review their policies that may restrict employee’s ability to inform friends and relatives immediately after such events.
Facility Controlled Access: FedEx and their competitors do a great job controlling access to their facilities via measures that I will not detail for obvious reasons. Moving forward, not only FedEx, but companies across America, must now consider beefed-up controlled access measures to deal with the heavily armed intruder threat.
The Cost: There will be a significant cost to beefing up existing security measures to protect against armed workplace intruders. Additionally, companies now need to look to providing controlled access to employee parking lots, which can often be quasi-public venues. And finally, as an employee, be smart about your workplace safety and demand that your employer post and practice procedures for employees to follow in the event of a workplace intrusion by an armed predator.
Today, the focus must remain on supporting the victims, their family members, and employees of the FedEx Ground operations center in Indianapolis. However, I can guarantee you that FedEx security and executive management are already reviewing additional security measures to prevent heavily armed intruders from entering their facilities.