Ensuring Workplace Safety in Unforeseen Situations

Picture this…It’s a bright sunny day in your city, and you’re sitting at your desk looking outside at the beautiful view. As a human resources manager for your small regional marketing company, it’s your responsibility to ensure a safe and secure environment for all your employees.

Suddenly, from your view, looking down to the street, you see police cars surrounding the building. As you start contacting building management to find out what’s happening, you hear over the building intercom that there is a threatening situation. Everyone in the building is being directed to shelter immediately.

The Importance Preparedness

Do you know what to do without any knowledge of the “threatening situation”? Does your office have a Shelter-in-Place location (or multiple locations) inside your office space? Do your employees know where to go and how to protect themselves from whatever the threat is? Do you have a crisis management team that will jump into action the moment everyone is asked to shelter in place?

Although most employees in a workplace setting routinely go through evacuation drills to practice safely exiting a building, sheltering in place is still a concept foreign to many employers and employees. In today’s world filled with natural disasters, man-made, high-tech, and cyber threats, it has become essential for businesses to “Defend Forward” and be prepared for any situation that might pose a threat to the workforce.

People and data are a business’s most critical assets, and including your employees in this “Defend Forward” philosophy means that employees must also play a pivotal role in providing the first line of defense against threats.

Creating crisis management teams that include your employees as volunteers can be the first step in creating that preparedness environment. Organizations and employees who are provided education and awareness of potential threats and learn how to react to them in a “prepare, react, and recover” mode are much more likely to be resilient and recover quickly from a threat than those organizations that are not prepared.

As it turns out, that Shelter-in-Place command from your building management was due to a bank robbery in progress in the bank in the lobby of your building. Luckily for you and all your employees, the bank robber was caught a few blocks away, and everyone remained safe from this particular threat. But the next threat could be moments away. Is your organization prepared? Your firm’s reputation and livelihood may depend on how resilient you and your employees are and how you manage each threat as it materializes. Let “Defend Forward” and “Prepare, Protect, Prevent” be your firm’s daily motto.

Educate, Test, Exercise, Repeat

Education and awareness training should focus on both online and face-to-face learning, tabletop exercises, and actual drills that force everyone to commit to muscle memory, the steps that should immediately be taken if a specific threat happens in the workplace. Participating in

routine exercises and drills and creating a written disaster preparedness plan prepares everyone for readiness. Routinely testing your plans is also critical for an organization to become resilient.

The same preparedness is needed for the cyber threats organizations face daily. Understanding the basic elements of cyber threats and the fact that “black hat” threat actors can destroy your organization and its reputation is crucial to establishing cyber resilience. Cyber terminology, including “malware,” “bots,” “viruses,” “phishing,” “ransomware,” and “data breaches,” needs to be explained in basic, simple terms to all levels of employees in your organization. Cyber drills and exercises that involve all levels of your organization can go a long way toward establishing resilience.


Ensuring workplace safety in unforeseen situations is paramount for employees’ well-being and business operations’ continuity. With the increasing complexity of threats today, businesses must adopt a proactive approach to preparedness. By embracing the “Defend Forward” philosophy and fostering a culture of readiness through education, training, and regular testing, organizations can empower their employees to become the first line of defense against various threats, including physical and cyber dangers. Remember, preparation is the key to resilience, and investing in preparedness today can safeguard your firm’s reputation and livelihood tomorrow. Let us commit to the mantra of “Prepare, Protect, Prevent” and embark on a continuous education, testing, and exercise journey to ensure our readiness for whatever challenges lie ahead.