Anticipating Active Shooter Incidents in the Workplace

Anticipating Active Shooter Incidents

Active shooter incidents can happen just about anywhere—the workplace is certainly no exception.  According to the FBI, nearly 44% of active shooter incidents from 2000-2018 have occurred in the workplace and other areas of commerce.1 In many cases the workplace, including employees and employment activities, can be direct and significant contributing factors.  Employers are well advised to anticipate possible active shooter incidents in the same way as other low frequency, high severity perils, such as a tornado or fire.  In building a comprehensive emergency action plan for your workplace, consider the following:


Anticipate the most likely incident scenarios for your workplace.  The focus of your planning efforts should match your exposure.  Accurate, proactive planning can help avoid the most dire, undesirable consequences.  Is your workplace vulnerable to potential workplace violence due to:

  • Workplace layoffs
  • Disgruntled customers
  • Employee grievances
  • Coworker conflicts
  • Domestic or other employee personal disputes

Consider active shooter event preparations to your emergency action plan, including, but not limited to:

  • Access control
  • Mapping and planning refuge and escape routes
  • Incident planning and drills (you may wish to request planning and execution assistance from local law enforcement and emergency responders)
  • Contact and communications information, including available notification system options
  • Assignment of roles and responsibilities (e.g., who to contact for employee conflicts)

Finally, practice your plan on a continual basis and make adjustments as needed.


Employees need to be educated on administrative policies, procedures, and your incident plan.  Training for an active shooter incident can be addressed by a number of methods—there is no one-size-fits-all situations—choose a method that suits your environment.

Examples include:

  • Instructor-led classroom seminars (including law enforcement resources)
  • Web-based education
  • Drills or tabletop exercises
  • Newsletters or informational communications such as posters or bulletins

Employers should use discretion on the best method of training that is suitable for their workplace.

Ultimately, while the possibility of an active shooter incident cannot fully be eliminated, creating a comprehensive plan for a potential event and training employees on what to anticipate can make all the difference in lowering the probability and severity if such event were to occur.

For more information, visit the Department of Homeland Security website for comprehensive details on active shooter preparedness.


1Federal Bureau of Investigation. "Office of Partner Engagement:Active Shooter Incident Graphics." (retrieved November 2019)


Michael McGowan, Loss Control Manager

Michael McGowan is the Loss Control Manager with Old Republic Risk Management. He is responsible for assisting policyholders with loss control information and services with an emphasis on carrier service compliance in regulated jurisdictions. Michael is based out of our corporate office in Brookfield, WI.