We think a lot about various types of survival scenarios, and we make all sorts of assumptions regarding how such scenarios will unfold. We try to prepare as best as we can, but we fail to realize that a crisis can take us by surprise, and we might not find ourselves in a place of our liking. When it comes to workplace prepping, this topic is hardly being discussed by folks out there.
Most people that spend 40 or more hours a week at their workplace fail to realize that there are certain survival scenarios they may have to endure while being stuck at work. For example, social upheaval is a real threat that can be triggered by a number of reasons and can escalate in a matter of minutes.
In case something does happen, and you find yourself at your workplace, you should have a bug out or bug in plan in place. Have you ever considered what you would do if the proverbial brown stuff hits the fan when you find yourself at work? How safe is your workplace?
People dedicate a great deal of time to their working schedule and to make their workplace as nice as possible, but few of them give much thought to workplace survival and how to make it safer. I honestly believe that everyone should make a risk assessment and prepare for real threats when it comes to their work environment.
While there are things you can always count on, like your abilities and assets, you should also focus on the things that could happen at any time while you’re at work, and you need to look at it with a fresh mind and disconnect yourself from this familiar place.
If something happens at work, you should be able to mitigate what you can, and sometimes, this means creating solutions for the entire office, or perhaps there will be scenarios in which you need to focus solely on yourself.
Let’s look at some threats and see what we can do to protect ourselves.
We are a country in which natural disasters are a common occurrence, and all states have to deal with a kind (or more) of natural calamity. The “natural” threat category includes anything from earthquakes, floods, fires, tornadoes, and so on.
Take a good look at the natural disasters that are a common occurrence in your geographical region and try to figure out what’s most likely to hit your workplace. Do a little bit of research to find out when the last natural calamities occurred and seek out data that could show you when they might happen again.
If you work in a coastal region, there’s a high chance that flooding or a tsunami might hit your workplace in the near future. If you live and work in an isolated town in a mountainous region, wildfire should definitely be considered a real threat. If you are located in Hawaii, a blizzard is a minimal risk, but a volcanic eruption is a real threat if one is nearby.
Make an honest assessment for each threat that is relevant to your area and build a response plan for each of them. If you have old-timers at your workplace, speak with them and find out what has historically occurred there. By talking with people who have worked at your workplace for a long time, you will also be able to figure out how leadership responded to what occurred in the past and how well-prepared they are to mitigate a threat if it occurs again.
You will learn valuable lessons, and the failure and successes of your predecessors will show you what you need to do to make your workplace safer.
Man-made threats can vary, and they are as complex as human nature itself. However you look at your fellow humans, when it comes to making your workplace safer, there are two categories of risk you should consider: external and internal ones. Both of these categories could involve workplace violence, and the active killer scenario is the most dangerous one.
There are other threats as well, such as arson, bombings, deliberate power outages, or hazmat threats. For example, there was a recent case of new covid infections in China, where the authorities locked people in their office, and they weren’t allowed to leave until the CCP said it was ok to do so. It is not known how well those people were prepared to survive at work or how the government helped to make their forced stay more pleasant.
When it comes to external threats, all the individuals outside of your workplace can become a threat. It can be a regular customer that has a bad day and decides to take it out on you, or it could be a total stranger that’s out for blood.
If there is social upheaval and the streets are filled with angry people, your workplace might be targeted because they believe there are things of value inside and looters become dangerous when they encounter resistance.
On the other hand, if you work for a government agency that might have affected the well-being or quality of life of the protestors, the building will be attacked because they see it as the harboring place of their enemies.
As for internal threats, these are the people you work with on a daily basis or perhaps people related to them. For example, if one of your co-workers is depressed, is doing overtime, and it’s not being compensated for his/her efforts, or perhaps the raise he was promised doesn’t come, they can snap at any time.
Another threat example would be an abusive and jealous spouse that may come to the workplace looking to settle some personal scores or punish those they believe are responsible for their failing marriage.
There are also scenarios involving workplace bullying, affairs between coworkers, or sudden termination of contracts for one or multiple employees that can trigger a scenario with health hazards for everyone working there.
Any of these scenarios could have ramifications for everyone at work, and they may end up as collateral casualties. While people rarely “snap” suddenly, it was estimated that around 80- to 85- percent of people would often broadcast their intention before they act. They often give out clues or cries for help before doing something with devastating consequences for everyone involved.
Threat mitigation and keeping your workplace safer
Once you have figured out what are the threats with a high probability of occurrence, you have to ask yourself what you can do to make your workplace safer. Most certainly, there are certain measures that can be put in place to minimize the impact of threats before they happen.
The pandemic has shown us that we can create (at least sometimes) a culture of collective safety rules to keep everyone safe. Following the same model, there could be measures implemented to reward behaviors that improve workplace safety and can increase the overall outreach and detection.
If your coworkers realize their safety and security are their responsibility, they will eventually all chip in to make the workplace safer. They will notice and report things, and the more voices are heard, the more awareness increases, forcing leadership to react.
Even physical security can be improved by hiring professionals that can assess and create threat mitigation plans to prevent threats from evolving. Even a simple locked door, a keycard access system, or a camera system can give you enough time to react and prevent a threat from happening or stopping it from evolving.
Simple things like hiring security, stocking your workplace with first aid and survival supplies may not seem like much, but they will make your workplace safer, and they will save lives.
How you should respond to threats
How you respond to threats depends on how well prepared you are, and regardless of the category of threats, there are some basic things you can do like evacuation or sheltering in place.
The evacuation step is something that needs to be practiced every year, at least once or twice, to make sure people know how to reach safety when something happens.
People should be familiar with evacuation routes, they should have access to closed doors to avoid being trapped, and they should be updated with every security change that takes place in the working environment. They should all be able to reach a reunification point or communicate with their supervisor when something goes wrong.
When it comes to sheltering in place, this is recommended when external threats, regardless of whether they are natural or man-made, create an immediate danger. There should be a place designated when everyone should gather, and all employees should be able to reach it once everything shuts down.
Besides a safe gathering area, there should always be a room (or rooms, depending on how big the workplace is) stocked with emergency supplies. In case you are stuck at work for more than 24 hours due to external events that make evacuation impossible, everyone should have what they need in order to make their “overtime” as pleasant and less stressful as possible. Once someone starts to panic, fear will spread like wildfire, and people will start acting crazy.
In the case of an active killer scenario, the survival rule you have to follow is “run, hide, fight,” and how you manage to accomplish any of these actions depends a lot on your office layout, your training, and skillset.
If you want to make your workplace safer, you need to practice survival procedures inside your workplace, whether it’s an evacuation or sheltering in place during a natural disaster or active killer response. You will need to learn how to handle security systems and how to deal with security procedures like convincing people to follow the designated evacuation route.
The management should encourage employees to practice established responses to various survival scenarios so that everyone knows how to act when the time comes without wasting precious time. Also, it is recommended to train employees in first aid and CPR.
Communication systems often fail during natural disasters because the network may be overwhelmed, or there may be electrical service fails. You need to have various backup plans for when comms fail, and in certain cases, even an old-fashioned plastic signal whistle can make a difference if someone gets trapped in a building, let’s say, during an earthquake.
There should be ways to alert the employees of sudden deviation of actions plans previously established, and in some cases, an internal speaker system or a bullhorn will do the job. I remember that more than 12 years ago, a company I’ve worked for had a system in place that would trigger a warning message on everyone’s computer screen when an emergency took place.
There are all sorts of solutions that can be put in place in order to make sure all employees are warned in case something goes wrong. A good communication plan can keep your workplace safer, even when other plans may fail.
Are you alone in all of this?
Some preppers out there adopt the lone wolf mentality even if they live and work within a community. While taking care of yourself is certainly recommended, you should also consider that it takes a village to raise a child.
If you’re the only person trained and ready to deal with whatever the future may throw at you, it’s smart to invest some time in teaching others about emergency preparedness. You may be an expert prepper, but everyone around you will act foolishly and do stupid things when a crisis occurs. They will behave just like a child would.
Also, if the brown stuff hits the fan and you have to deal with unprepared and untrained people at every step of your way to safety, there’s a big chance that you won’t make it. Everyone that panics can hold you back, or they can do certain actions that will lead to your demise.
Rather than keeping people at bay, it’s smart to try to convince them to see things your way and figure out who’s willing to learn and train and who’s going to be a troublemaker when SHTF.
Resources recommended for preppers and survivalists: