The Reality of Risk and How It Impacts Life Safety at Work

This blog post is about the increasing life safety and security risk we all face in the workplace. A link to a pre-recorded webinar with tips to improve workplace safety, security and communication appears at the conclusion of this post.

A few hours following the webinar on workplace safety we hosted yesterday, the news broke about a mass shooting at a lawn-care company in Hesston, Kansas, a small city about 35 miles north of Wichita. Three people were killed and 14 injured in the shooting spree, according to the news. 

A witness told reporters, “You think you’re safe at work, and you’re not.” The county sheriff lamented that he’s surprised to be dealing with this sort of situation. “I wish I wasn’t the sheriff in front of these cameras,” he told reporters. “But it has happened here.”

We don’t want to exploit this incident. But if we fail to discuss it, aren’t we ignoring reality? As a mother of two elementary-school children, it pains me to say that we don’t live in a world in which it’s safe to be ignorant of our surroundings – whether people are at work, school, a house of worship or going to a movie. We have to change our mindset from one of denial, as in “it won’t happen here,” to one of preparedness.

Situational awareness is a risk management strategy and technology framework that contributes to life safety.

Despite the headlines about mass shootings, break-ins, fires, severe weather, terrorist attacks and other tragedies – facilities remain susceptible to safety and security risks and the subsequent fallout, including loss of life.

More than ever, situational awareness for life safety is key – as both a risk management strategy and technology framework – because it creates time to prevent and/or respond to any number of potential threats. And time is a critical factor in emergency management because panic, confusion and delays can make the difference between life and death. 

From our perspective, the promise of technology is in prevention. But we can’t always prevent bad things from happening, so the goal must be to lessen the impact those things have – or to avoid them if at all possible. But if and when an emergency occurs, we need to be able to respond appropriately. Technology can help from both a prevention and response standpoint. 

Without situational awareness, there can be no intelligent response. Are you willing to leave safety and security to chance? 

My goal with yesterday’s webinar, and now with this blog post, is to make you think. First, think about your environment and what you can and can’t control in terms of potential threats to life, property, business or convenience. Second, turn your thoughts into action. Organize a cross-functional team to assess your current emergency plan, identify additional hazards, and then determine how you can become more situationally aware to mitigate risk. 

For more information and tips, here is a link to a pre-recorded webinar on improving workplace safety, security and communication.

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