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Small Business Safety: What To Learn From Current Events

Lance Guillory
November 24, 2023

Recent events serve as a reminder to small and medium-sized businesses that inadequate or absent security measures can result in potentially life-threatening situations. 

“On May 31, 2019, a mass shooting occurred in a municipal building in Virginia Beach. A city employee fatally shot 12 people and wounded four others before he was fatally shot by responding police officers. Tragically, this was one of many mass shootings in the Commonwealth of Virginia.” — Ryant Washington, Commission Chair 

Currents Events Impacting Small Business Safety

The 2019 Virginia Beach mass shooting occurred at a government building where the assailant had unrestricted access to all three floors. Notably, the assailant was employed as an engineer in this very building and had sent his resignation letter just hours before the tragic incident commenced. With minimal to no warning signs from the employee other than this resignation, the shooting began in the parking lot after the assailant retrieved weapons from their vehicle in late afternoon.

The perpetrator made his way inside the building while remaining active for nearly fifteen minutes, spanning from the initial assault to the final victim. He was then shot by officers himself. 

We implore every small business to consider the security concerns and precautions listed below to prevent such situations in the future.

Standards of Safety

Setting a proper standard of safety for your daily operations is crucial, no matter the size of your business, your location, or your assets. From the official report as a lesson learned:

  • “The legislature should lay out standards of safety in all public buildings, at all levels of state and municipal buildings. This lack of standardization was a problem at Virginia Beach for first responders.” 

Maintaining a secure and safe work environment by putting into place preventative protocols strengthens the safety of yourself and your staff. Here are some elements of security that we suggest you assess and keep up to standard when it comes to keeping your organization safe.

Your Access Control Systems

Insufficient or inadequate access control measures like open door policies, opportunity for tailgating employees, and low level keycard protocols leave individuals vulnerable to adversary attack and makes them an easy target for assailants. One of the key recommendations following the investigation into the shooting was improving security measures within these public buildings. From the official report as a lesson learned:

  • “The legislature should recommend minimum standards that should be included in security plans – ranging from establishing a single emergency command, to standardized locks and access procedures…”

Measures such as securing doors, implementing visitor management and sign-in systems, and utilizing controlled access points throughout the building ensure that only authorized individuals can enter certain areas. 

Active Assailant Drills and Training for All Employees

The aftermath of the shooting also brought attention to the importance of active assailant drills and training for all employees. Such drills can prepare your employees for potential incidents, instructing them on how to react, where to go, and how to communicate during such situations. 

We face the grim reality that these drills are necessary, but lifesaving when every second counts. From the official report as lessons learned

  • “The legislature should require all state-funded entities or municipalities to have an up-to-date Emergency Action Plan (EAP)... and that all EAPs be reviewed annually.”
  • “The legislature should ensure that emergency and fire drills exercises (including active assailant drills) should be conducted in all state, city, and county buildings…This training should be mandatory for all employees.”

What can you do as a small business owner with this information? Create an updated Emergency Action Plan (EAP) and review it annually to ensure staff familiarity. 

Reach out to us if you need assistance creating an EAP for your organization.

Also, conduct regular emergency and fire drill exercises, including active shooter drills. Make this training mandatory for all employees to equip them with crisis handling knowledge. Doing this is a proactive step in protecting your staff in case of emergency or disaster.

Training Managers to Identify Red Flags in Employee Behaviors

Questions were raised about whether there were any warning signs from the assailant, DeWayne Craddock, before the attack. While his colleagues expressed confusion about what might have sparked the attack, this situation underscores the necessity of training for managers to identify potential red flags in employee behaviors.

From the official report as a lesson learned

  • “All new managers should be required to go through training on best management practices. This training should include how to recognize the signals that an employee is troubled and where to go to get him or her help.”

Such training could involve recognizing signs of distress, changes in behavior or performance, or threats and comments that may indicate a potential risk. This is not to suggest that every change in behavior signals a threat, but rather that managers need to be equipped to address and escalate concerns appropriately.

Protect Your Small Business
Safe Haven is here to help prepare your organization to identify, assess, and counter security threats and prevent similar incidents from happening in your workplace. Reach out today.

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