With random workplace violence continuing across the U.S., many employers are asking how best to protect their workforce. While these incidents are distressing, here’s a few ideas for improving your company’s safety.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines “workplace violence” as an act or threat of physical violence, harassment and intimidation that occurs at the work site. It can involve employees, clients, customers and visitors. OSHA asserts that nearly two million American workers report being victims of workplace violence every year.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports that the level of workplace violence in the U.S. is measured with fatal and nonfatal statistics. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) reported 16,890 workers in the private industry experienced trauma from nonfatal workplace violence in 2016.

In response to workplace violence, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued the “Active Shooter Preparedness Program.” This detailed plan was intended to enhance preparedness by providing training on issues such as active shooter awareness and incident response.

The DHS has found that in 160 documented active shooter incidents, the events occurred most frequently in areas of commerce (46 percent), followed by schools (24 percent), and government properties (10 percent).

According to the DHS, an effective active shooter plan will include:

• Proactive steps to identify individuals who may be on a path to commit violence;
• A plan for immediately reporting active shooter incidents, including informing employees and customers;
• How to neutralize the threat and achieve safety;
• Evacuation, hide and lock-down policies;
• In-house information on area emergency response teams and hospitals, including phone numbers and contacts;
• How business operations will be restored.

DHS suggests that after active shooter plans are finalized, training and drills should be conducted at least annually. OSHA states that one of the best protections is a zero-tolerance policy toward workplace violence. Such policies should cover all workers, patients, clients, visitors, contractors and anyone else in contact with your company.

OSHA also believes that a well-written workplace violence prevention program combined with regular training can reduce the potential and damages of workplace violence significantly.