At Hierl, we take the safety of our workforce very seriously. Every month, we do our best to inform our employees, as well as other employers, on ways to reduce the risk of violence in the workplace. This month, we’ve decided to focus on the importance of a clean, walkable workplace, and – in light of the unfortunate violence across the US – we want to put a spotlight on safety when it comes to terrorism in the workplace.

Declutter for a Safe Workplace

A cluttered, unorganized workspace isn’t just unsightly—it is also dangerous. Poor workplace housekeeping, such as failing to clean up after yourself, can contribute to the following:

  • Injuries caused by slips and falls when clutter is on the floor
  • Potential fire hazards
  • Exposure to hazardous dust and vapors
  • Ergonomics issues that arise when clutter takes over your workspace, leaving you little room to work

No matter what type of environment you work in, it is important to keep your workspace clean and organized, not only for safety reasons, but also for productivity and morale. According to researchers, a cluttered environment can cause stress, and restrict your ability to focus and process information. The following tips can help you keep your workspace safe and organized:

  • Regularly wipe down your workstation with a damp cloth or disinfecting wipe to remove dust, dirt and germs. Don’t forget the keyboard and mouse if you use a computer.
  • Clean up spills and dispose of all trash immediately.
  • Avoid eating at your workstation, especially if you work with hazardous materials.
  • Keep walkways and floors free of clutter and tripping hazards.
  • Store equipment in designated areas when tasks are complete.

What to Do in the Event of an Active Shooter

Workplace violence may be a rare occurrence, but you should never underestimate the importance of being prepared in the event that your workplace is targeted by an active shooter. An active shooter is an individual who is engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area.

Shootings can happen anytime, anywhere. The general perception is that these events happen in bad areas or in buildings that contain key members of society. However, this is not always the case, and the majority of shootings that occur in the workplace are carried out by employees, or former employees, for reasons associated with their job.

While you may not be able to prevent an attack from happening, it is critical to keep the following tips in mind in the event that your workplace experiences an active shooter incident:

  • Evacuate the premises if possible.
  • Call 911 if you can do so safely.
  • Warn everyone you encounter to leave the area.
  • Remain silent and still if you can’t flee safely. Be sure to silence any devices you may be carrying.
  • Block any doors with heavy furniture if you are hiding in a room. Don’t stand near any windows.

Only fight back as a last resort. Be sure to cooperate with emergency personnel—it can mean the difference between life and death. When law enforcement arrives, be sure to react in the following ways:

  • Calmly follow instructions.
  • Put down any items you are carrying, and keep hands visible at all times.
  • Provide as much information as you can.

Attacks can happen without warning. Since they are often finished before law enforcement arrives on the scene, it is important to consider the threat of an active shooter in advance and be aware of your company’s emergency procedures.