Dealing with a firearm or weapon attack

June 19, 2017 8:32am All News Stories  Employment Law News  dealing with an armed attack

What happens if the unthinkable happens and there is a firearm or weapon attack in your workplace?

These events are very rare. But it is always best to be prepared, rather than panic if the unimaginable does occur.

In the workplace

By law, employers have a legal obligation to ensure, so far as it is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of their employees at work.

No matter how big or small your business is, it is good practice to have some sort of business contingency plan in place, which allows you to respond to a crisis (e.g. a fire, IT failure, theft, vandalism, flood, power cuts, terrorism, etc.) and equips you with ways to resume your business activities to ensure the least amount of disruption to both your employees and customers or service users. This involves assessing what potential crisis could affect your business, evaluating how you can reduce the risks, reviewing your current security measures and developing appropriate strategies.

If there is a firearm or weapon attack, employees should follow the guidance produced by the National Police Chief’s Council. In essence, employees should try and run to a place of safety. If there is nowhere to go, they should hide. Finally, they should alert the police.

As an employer, you need to make sure that staff are familiar with the following:

  • What to do if a crisis situation occurs
  • What the evacuation procedures are – where to go and who they need to report to
  • What to do if they discover a suspicious item or see suspicious behaviour
  • What to do if they receive a threat
  • In what circumstances they should notify emergency services

If there has been a firearm or weapon attack, you will also need to think about searching for anyone who is unaccounted for, keeping employees updated about next steps, determining whether you need to temporarily move premises or allow people to work from home and notifying family members of current events.


Catherine Wilson, Director of Legal Services at Ellis Whittam, says “This may seem to be preparing for the unthinkable however recent horrendous events remind us of the value of preparing for an eventuality that we hope we will never have to face in practice.”

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