Manufacturing Plant Tragedy Stirs Up Emotions and Concerns

Feb. 19, 2019

The Aurora, Ill. shooting that occurred on February 15 shook a community and a nation. It also raised questions and concerns about workplace issues and how safe we all feel at our places of work. 

The Henry Pratt shooting that occurred in Aurora, Ill. on February 15 impacted the Food Processing team a little more than most workplace tragedies we hear about and write about on our website and in the pages of our magazine. The shooting, which occurred a little bit after lunch, is said to be the result of an employee's termination. 

Our sister site, Plant Services, carries the formal news posting on their website. You can read that news posting here. 

This blog post isn't going to be about gun laws. I won't even pretend to know how to tackle Human Resources issues either. Instead, I want to take a minute to pause and reflect on the impact on the shooting made not only to the Aurora community, but to workplaces in general and how safe we feel in them. 

Close to Home

A handful of our team members have friends, family, and homes in the area where the shooting took place. For us, Friday afternoon was spent in front of television sets, scouring social media, and on our phones trying to get a hold of loved ones to see if they were okay -- or scarier yet -- still alive. 

Most of the Food Processing team knows at least one person who was impacted by the shooting. Stories continue to spill out about how brave the plant employees were and how the police, four of which  sustained bullet wounds as they entered the facility, managed to get the majority of the employees out safely and physically unharmed. 

The Ripple Effect 

This isn't the first instance of workplace violence and, sadly, it probably won't be the last. Shootings have become more commonplace in our daily lives; so much so that we teach children how to do lockdown drills in between lessons of reading, writing, and arithmetic. Interestingly enough, at my workplace, I know where to go if there's a fire and a tornado. If there's a shooter, I'm not sure where I'm supposed to go. We don't teach lockdown drills to adults. 

Do you feel safe at work?

No matter what your stance is on gun control or how companies handle terminations, the incident at Henry Pratt serves as a startling reminder that our workplaces aren't always the safe places we wish they were. It used to be that the most stressful safety threat at work was the equipment we came into contact with. Now, human threats are capable of greater devastation than any electrical system, dust explosion, or retort processor ever could produce.

All of this, of course, is my opinion. I'm curious to know how you feel. Does your workplace feel safe? Are you ever worried about violence at your plant or office? Would you know what to do if a colleague became violent? We've put together a short, 3-question survey below to see how you feel about workplace safety. Let us know what you think. We'll report the results in an upcoming blog post. 

1. Have you ever had concerns about your physical security at your current workplace?
2. Does your company have protocols in place for a security emergency such as an active-shooter situation or an intruder or other individual gaining unauthorized access to a part of the plant? 
3. On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being "disagree completely" and 5 being "agree completely," rank your agreement with this statement: My company does a good job managing access to different parts of the facility and preventing unauthorized access.