Read All of Rave Mobile Safety's Press Releases.

Recent Press Releases

April 14, 2015

Smart911 Expands Coverage of Life-Saving Service to Over 10 Percent of U.S. Population in First Quarter 2015

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March 23, 2015

Rave Mobile Safety Names One of Nation's Top Public Safety Officials to Advisory Board

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February 23, 2015

Smart911 Announces 4th Annual Smart Telecommunicator Awards to Recognize 9-1-1 Call-Takers

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February 18, 2015

Communities Across the U.S. Get “Smarter” About 9-1-1 as Smart911 Service Expands To Help Save Lives

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The Difference between Emergency Preparedness and Business Continuity for Hospitals

July 16, 2019 Blog Author: Andrea Lebron

emergency preparedness and business continuity for hospitalsDistinguishing between emergency preparedness and business continuity in a medical environment can be complicated due to the two areas of emergency management often overlapping. However, there are good reasons to separate the two functions - provided the teams responsible collaborate closely.

In many industries, the lines between emergency preparedness and business continuity can often be blurred because the two functions relate to how a business responds to a crisis. In the healthcare industry, there is even more of a crossover because, when an emergency such as a natural disaster occurs, healthcare facilities have a legal obligation to protect staff and patients from harm while attending to the needs of the community.

Nonetheless, there are good reasons to separate the two functions. One team - the emergency preparedness team - should focus on protecting staff, patients, and visitors. This involves developing an emergency preparedness plan, training staff on emergency procedures, planning evacuations and patient transportation, and ensuring life-support resources are in place and ready to use when an emergency incident occurs.

The role of the second team - the business continuity team - is to plan how the hospital´s operations can be maintained during different types of emergencies and - if it is not possible to maintain all operations - which should be given priority and how quickly others can be restored to their pre-emergency state thereafter. This requires the business continuity team to develop both a continuity of operations plan for different departments and an overall business continuity plan.

>>Download the Infographic - Healthcare Emergency Preparedness Needs to Evolve

Collaboration and Communication between Teams is Vital

Emergency preparedness and business continuity planning for hospitals is complicated by multiple federal and regional regulations (i.e. the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act). Both teams have to take these regulations into account when developing their plans as well as liaise with local governments and external emergency managers to incorporate National Incident Management System and National Response Framework policies into their plans.

This requires a high level of collaboration between teams, between neighboring medical facilities and with other emergency management stakeholders. Due to the importance of ensuring essential communications are noticed and acted upon, it is recommended hospitals dedicate a unique and secure communication system for internal and external emergency communications in order to (for example) prevent critical emails being overlooked among a crowded inbox.

Ideally, the communication system should be sufficiently versatile that it can be used for collaboration purposes, alert staff to an emergency, and notify key personnel when their services are required for business continuity. Therefore the system should be capable of database segmentation with the option of adding other groups of emergency managers so the system can act as an emergency command center should “normal” communication channels become unavailable during the emergency.

What Surpasses the Requirements for Hospital Preparedness and Business Continuity

A reliable mass notification system that uses multiple channels of communication to quickly alert the maximum number of people to an emergency in the shortest possible time is a great way to surpass requirements for hospital preparedness and business continuity. Certain platforms support unlimited database segmentation to facilitate collaboration between groups, and have an opt-in feature for visitors to receive emergency notifications and for external emergency managers to be added to communication timelines for emergency preparedness and business continuity discussions.

Another feature found in top-notch hospital mass notification systems is the ability to conduct wellness checks. Poll-based alerts enable emergency managers to check on the wellbeing of employees during an emergency by geographical location, and gives business continuity managers the opportunity to poll employees by role for their availability to work extra shifts. 

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The Importance of a Hurricane Emergency Preparedness Plan for Non-Coastal Businesses

July 16, 2019 Blog Author: Andrea Lebron

shutterstock_1203941074Non-coastal businesses may not feel they are at significant risk during hurricane season; but, as recent history demonstrates, the effect of coastal hurricanes can impact inland businesses. Therefore, it is recommended all businesses develop a hurricane emergency preparedness plan for the consequences of any hurricane.

In October last year, Forbes published an article focusing on the impact Hurricane Michael had on inland businesses in Georgia. Primarily discussing the devastation to the state´s agriculture industry, the author noted that, while slow moving hurricanes produce intense rainfall, the damage caused by faster-moving hurricanes such as Hurricane Michael is primarily attributable to high winds.

Non-agricultural businesses in Georgia also experienced notable devastation. With wind speeds in Albany, GA, - 150 miles from where Hurricane Michael made landfall - reaching 74 miles per hour, power outages affected almost 25,000 customers and more than 100 roads were blocked by fallen trees and debris. Throughout the state, more than 400,000 customers were left without power

As the hurricane moved North East, the devastation continued. Hurricane Michael wiped out power supplies to half a million customers in North Carolina, closed 1,200 roads in Virginia, and - as it slowed in speed - produced severe flooding in Maryland. However, it was not only the direct consequences of the hurricane that were devastating, but also the indirect consequences.

The Indirect Consequences of Hurricanes

The indirect consequences of hurricanes affect practically every business in the country. While businesses in the midst of a storm suffer from power outages, structural damage, and flooding (which can also impact employees' ability to report for work), those outside its reach can also experience travel, transportation, and supply chain issues. Product and fuel shortages can also result in higher prices.

In these circumstances, businesses that are better prepared for the direct and indirect consequences of hurricanes will not experience such significant disruptions due to port closures, flight cancellations, or road closures. Furthermore, with many employees having the capability to work remotely, prepared businesses are better able to coordinate workflows and maintain operations. advocates businesses prepare an all-hazards emergency plan based on a risk-assessment and - on its risk assessment web page - includes resources business can use to determine the likelihood of natural hazards such as hurricanes. However, these resources do not account for the indirect consequences of a hurricane - so businesses need to take these into account as well.

Related Blog: This Year's Hurricanes Already Have Names. How Prepared is Your  Business to Deal with Them?

What Should a Hurricane Emergency Plan Consist Of?

Different businesses in different locations will have different levels of exposure to the direct and indirect consequences of a hurricane, but there are several considerations that should be included in every hurricane emergency preparedness plan.

Disaster Recover for Data and IT Systems

This consideration will be of greater importance for businesses in the direct line of a hurricane; but as hurricanes are getting stronger and reaching further inland than before, businesses outside of historical risk zones should also consider how data and IT systems would be impacted in the event of a hurricane.

Emergency Evacuation

Businesses should liaise with local emergency management officials when developing emergency evacuation plans to avoid gridlocking community evacuation routes and routes used by emergency services. The plan should also take into consideration employees´ special needs.

Emergency Business Supplies

In the event of it not being possible to evacuate the workplace before a hurricane strikes, businesses should stock up on water, non-perishable food, and medical equipment. It is also recommended to invest in an electricity generator and enough fuel to provide power for at least three days.

Business Continuity

Whereas some emergency planning authorities recommend reviewing insurance policies, insurance cannot restore market share, brand equity, or shareholder value in the event the business is unable to operate for a period of time. Investigate remote working as a way to keep the business running.

A Good Communications System is Essential

With the likelihood of power outages affecting cell phone services, it is essential a good communications system is implemented that works across multiple channels to keep in touch with employees, emergency management officials, customers, and vendors.

Further Advice on Hurricane Emergency Preparedness

This year, an above-average number of hurricanes is forecast with above-average levels of intensity. Although none are expected to be as devastating as Hurricane Michael, it is impossible to be 100% certain. To mitigate the direct and indirect consequences of a major hurricane - or any adverse weather event - businesses should conduct a risk assessment with focus on disaster recovery, business continuity, and communication plans to see if it could cope with an event on the scale of Hurricane Michael.

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This Year's Hurricanes Already Have Names. How Prepared is Your Business to Deal with Them?

July 9, 2019 Blog Author: Andrea Lebron

Hurricane SeasonThe most recent forecasts for this year's hurricane season predict an above-average number of major storms with higher-than-average intensity. Yet research shows the majority of businesses are unprepared for severe weather events - increasing concerns businesses will experience significant disruption to operations.

Each year, the National Hurricane Center assigns twenty-one names for tropical storms with wind speeds of 34 knots (39 mph) or more. The names have an alphabetical order from A to W - skipping Q and U - and alternate between traditionally male and female names. Usually the names are rotated in six year cycles, unless a tropical storm turns into a significantly destructive hurricane (i.e. Hurricane Katrina) - in which case the name is retired. This year's tropical storms and hurricanes will be called:

Order of Names for North Atlantic Tropical Storms and Hurricanes 2019























Usually twenty-five names is sufficient for the hurricane season. Only once since accurate records have been kept were there more than twenty-one tropical storms and hurricanes in a single season (in 2005); and, since 1981, there has been an average of twelve named storms per year - with six developing into hurricanes, and two of these developing into major hurricanes. However, the number of tropical storms and hurricanes for this coming season is predicted to be higher than average.

Related Case Study: How Fluor Petroleum is Using WebEOC and Mass Notification  for Employee Accountability

More Storms Predicted with Greater Intensity than Usual

Throughout the year, weather organizations release their outlooks for the hurricane season. This year's predictions started by suggesting lower than average storm activity in the North Atlantic; but, due to a decrease in the impact of El Niño on mean sea level pressure, the number of storms predicted for between June and November has been increasing steadily. The most recent outlook (PDF) forecasts sixteen named storms with eight hurricanes - three of which will be major hurricanes.

Of greater concern than the increasing number of forecast storms, is their predicted intensity. The Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) scale calculates tropical storm intensity based on estimated wind speeds. Any season in which the ACE calculation is forecast to be above 111 is considered to be an above-average season for tropical storm intensity. The most recent outlook predicts an ACE value of 150 - which, if correct, puts this year´s hurricane season on the verge of being hyperactive.

To put the significance of the high ACE value into context, there have been two occasions since Hurricane Katrina when ACE has been calculated at higher than 150 - in 2010, when twelve of that year´s nineteen tropical storms developed into hurricanes (of which five were classified as major hurricanes); and in 2017, when Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Jose ripped through the Gulf States and up the Eastern Seaboard in quick succession. 2012 - the year of Hurricane Sandy - achieved an ACE value of 132.

Related Blog: How GE Appliances Performed Employee Wellness Checks During Major  Hurricanes

Most Businesses “Not Completely Prepared” for Hurricane Season

New call-to-actionIn 2018, the insurance company FM Global conducted a survey into the hurricane preparedness of businesses located in the areas most significantly affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Jose. The key takeaway from the survey was that nearly two-thirds of respondents reported suffering an adverse impact on operations due to being “not completely prepared” for the hurricane season - despite forecasts predicting a higher-than-average storm season and a greater storm intensity than usual.

The lack of hurricane preparedness was attributed to three reasons by Dr. Louis Gritzo - Vice President and Manager of Research at FM Global. He claimed not only was there a level of denial about the risk from hurricanes, but because the likelihood of three successive, intense hurricanes was a “once-in-a-hundred-years-event”, some businesses felt they had ninety-nine years to prepare for it. Gritzo warned that a “once-in-a-hundred-years-event” means there is a 1% chance of the event happening every year.

The third reason for a lack of hurricane preparedness - according to Gritzo - was an over-reliance on insurance. He noted that although insurance can cover the costs of replacing damaged infrastructure, it cannot restore market share, brand equity or shareholder value. He added:  “These candid admissions drive home a fundamental truth about catastrophe. People routinely fail to understand or acknowledge the magnitude of risk until they've experienced a fateful event.”

A Communications System is Key to Effective Hurricane Preparedness

In response to the worrying lack of hurricane preparedness uncovered by FM Global´s survey, the company compiled a comprehensive emergency checklist (PDF) which provides advice on how businesses should prepare for a hurricane, and the actions they should take during and after an adverse weather event. The key to the checklist being executed effectively is a communications system that is not exclusively reliant one channel of communication (i.e. the Internet or a cellular phone service). 

It is also important the solution implemented to execute the hurricane preparedness plan is capable of database segmentation. At various stages of an emergency event, different personnel may need to be notified of changes to their roles, evacuation procedures, or when it is safe to return to work. Notifying all personnel of every stage in the execution of an emergency management plan can cause confusion and risk more disruption to a business's operations.

Other factors businesses should take into account when evaluating emergency communication systems is the ability to plan ahead with emergency notification templates, integration with existing personnel databases to ensure data freshness, and an opt in/opt out capability so that casual workers, sub-contractors, and visiting personnel can also be notified of the correct course of action during an emergency event. Ideally, the system should also support two-way multi-modal communication.

How Prepared is Your Business for This Year's Hurricane Season?

With an above-average number of storms predicted, and an almost hyperactive level of intensity forecast, it is likely many businesses will experience “once-in-a-hundred-years” adverse weather events this year. Make sure your business is prepared against significant disruptions to operations by developing a hurricane preparedness plan and supporting it with an effective emergency communications system.

Business Critical Communication Solutions Platform

Company Summer Outings: Event Management Tips

July 9, 2019 Blog Author: Tara Gibson

Company Summer OutingSummer is the best time of the year for outdoor activities, BBQs, and fun in the sun. As the weather heats up many businesses want to celebrate the warm weather with their employees by hosting fun company summer outings and corporate events to boost morale in the hotter months. Event managers are hopeful for clear skies, comfortable temperatures, and no bumps along the way. This isn’t always the case, which is why planning and preparation for sizzling summer activities is extremely important when it comes to employee safety.  

Preparing for Your Company Summer Outing

When planning your company summer outing or event it’s important to keep this in mind: anything can happen. For this reason, preparing for your event should include a comprehensive emergency response plan and an emergency communications plan. After all, the safety of your employees is your biggest concern behind everybody having a great time!

  • Emergency Response Plan
    There are different levels of planning dependent on the summer activity or outing you are hosting. As the event planner, you should understand the types of situations that could arise and how to address them.

    • Beat the Heat
      Summertime weather can be unpredictable. Heat waves can bring extremely high temperatures for extended periods of time, which is why you must be prepared for one when planning a company summer outing. Heat-related illnesses can be very serious. According to National Safety Council, “Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can escalate rapidly, leading to delirium, organ damage and even death. In 2017, 87 people died in the U.S. from exposure to excessive heat.” If your venue is outdoors we recommend having plenty of drinking water available to keep your employees hydrated. Other ways to cool down include swimming or even misting systems.

    • Know Your Evacuation Options
      After you’ve picked your venue you should evaluate the exits and come up with an evacuation route in the case of an emergency. Whether your event is indoors or outdoors, the exit plans should be clear and shared with employees before the event begins. You could also assign staff members to help if an emergency arises to ensure smooth and calm evacuations if needed.

    • Account for Special Circumstances
      If there are employees who have medical requirements, allergies, or a handicap, it’s important to make sure you know how to help if an emergency arises. Make a note of those who may need extra help during an evacuation, for example. Encourage your employees to sign up for free personal safety profile like Smart911 that holds vital medical information only available to first responders when 9-1-1 is called during an emergency.

    • Utilize Technology
      There are many ways to communicate quickly and efficiently with first responders and law enforcement should an emergency arise. If you’re hosting a summer BBQ on premise, the use of your emergency notification platform could be a great help. Some companies also have employee safety apps that contact all necessary security personnel, even 9-1-1, with just the push of a button.
      Read More: Comparing Notification System Tools for Critical Communication
  • Emergency Communication Plan
    Your company summer outing’s emergency communication plan is just as important as your emergency response plan! Not being able to communicate with your employees could be detrimental to their safety. Having a communication plan provides structure on where, when and how information will be communicated to your employees.

    • Contact Management
      When planning your corporate summer event you’ll likely have some type of RSVP list or list of employees who plan on attending. Having their contact information is very important, but if the data is not stored and managed properly, you could run into some problems. If you’re not feeling confident in your current contact database, there are robust platforms that can help collect staff information and any special needs, medical requirements, and more.

    • Communication Technology
      Utilizing your emergency notification platform is a must for your corporate summer event. Being able to reach all event staff and employees if an emergency arises is essential to the safety of your employees. If your company does not have an emergency notification platform in place, it may be time to consider adopting one.

  • Have Fun!
    Summer events are a great opportunity for your employees to relax, celebrate, and have fun! Being prepared for the worst means you’ll be able to sit back and enjoy the day knowing if anything happens, there is a plan to address it.

Related Article: Overcoming 5 Business Communication Challenges

Safety Tips to Share With Employees

Depending on where your event is being hosted, there may be some extra precautions to take when it comes to employee safety. Share the below safety tips with your employees before your company summer outing so they know how to be prepared themselves!

  • Fireworks Safety
    If you’re event has fireworks, be sure to share some safety tips with your employees. Here are some tips from National Safety Council:
    • Anyone using fireworks or standing nearby should wear protective eyewear
    • Never hold lighted fireworks in your hands
    • Never light them indoors
    • Only use them away from people, houses and flammable material
    • Never point or throw fireworks at another person
    • Only light one device at a time and maintain a safe distance after lighting
    • Never ignite devices in a container
    • Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks
    • Soak both spent and unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding
    • Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don't go off or in case of fire
    • Never use illegal fireworks

  • Water Safety
    Your company summer outing may be by the water, at a pool, or be family friendly. If that’s the case, let your employees know of the below water safety tips from National Safety Council:
    • Don't go in the water unless you know how to swim
    • Never swim alone
    • Learn CPR and rescue techniques
    • Make sure the body of water matches your skill level; swimming in a pool is much different than swimming in a lake or river, where more strength is needed to handle currents
    • If you do get caught in a current, don't try to fight it; stay calm and float with it, or swim parallel to the shore until you can swim free
    • Swim in areas supervised by a lifeguard
    • Don't push or jump on others
    • Don't dive in unfamiliar areas
    • Never drink alcohol when swimming; alcohol is involved in about half of all male teen drownings, according to

  • Surviving the Heat
    Again, summertime can be extremely hot, which is why knowing what to look for when it comes to heat exhaustion or heat stroke is important. Learn more about both from National Safety Council here.

Celebrate the warmth of summertime with your employees safely!

If you’d like any assistance reviewing your event emergency response plans or communication plans, we’d be happy to help.

Rave Platform

Protecting Lone Workers during the Summer

July 2, 2019 Blog Author: Andrea Lebron

Lone workerEmployers have a mandated duty of care to protect all workers from risk of injury, but during the summer it can be easy to overlook lone workers exposed to seasonal hazards. We look at some of the most common seasonal hazards encountered by lone workers and how employers can enhance their safety.

The term lone worker can relate to any employee working in isolation, working in the field, working remotely, or travelling between destinations on their own. That covers quite a lot of people. It has been estimated that, by 2020, fifty percent or more of the working population will be working remotely, yet according to our Workplace Safety and Preparedness Survey, twenty-six percent of all employees feel that worrying about their safety affects their work.

In relation to lone workers, the percentage of concerned employees is probably higher. Each year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes a table of fatal occupational injuries, and three of the six categories (transportation accidents, violence, and environmental exposure) are particularly relevant to lone workers. The remaining three categories may also be relevant if a lone worker sustains an injury in an isolated location where no help is available.

BLS: Fatal Occupational Injuries by Event - 2017



Contact with Objects


Trips, Slips, and Falls


Environmental Exposure




Fires & Explosions



Why Certain Categories are More Dangerous in the Summer

Certain categories of occupational injuries are more likely in the summer months than they are in the winter due to the warmer weather. Evidence was presented by the New York Times last year that gun crimes rise in tandem with temperatures, and that more violence occurs outdoors than indoors in the summer - particularly in disadvantaged communities that don´t have access to air-conditioning in order to escape the heat.

Rising temperatures can also cause heat stress - a condition that occurs when the body temperature heats up faster than it can cool itself down. Heat stress can overwhelm the body´s coping mechanisms, leading to a variety of serious and possibly fatal conditions. When exposed to extreme heat, employees are at risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke - the effects of which can vary from mild to life-threatening depending on the general health of the individual.

Lone workers can also be more at risk from other environmental issues during the summer - such as poor air quality insect bites. Between 1992 and 1997, bites from spiders and other insects accounted for 36,100 reported non-fatal occupational injuries (PDF) and illnesses; and - according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - between ninety and one hundred people die each year in the U.S. due to an allergic reaction to an insect bite or sting.

How to Protect Lone Workers from Summer Dangers

It´s not possible to put a defensive ring around a lone employee to protect them from violence, the strength of the sun, or biting insects; but it is possible for employers to maintain constant communication with lone workers in order to check on their wellbeing, encourage them to speak up if they are uncomfortable in any environment, and provide training for the most likely summer dangers they will encounter - or the resources to deal with less likely summer dangers.

One of the best ways to enhance the safety of lone workers during the summer is through an employee safety app. This easy-to-operate app contains many different features that support employers attempting to protect lone workers against summer dangers. The app also includes an emergency call button, a safety timer, and a geo-targeted push notification capability that means employers can simultaneously keep in touch with groups of lone workers working in the same location.

Employee Communication Solutions Guide

Interesting Workplace Tech You Didn't Know Existed

June 25, 2019 Blog Author: Samantha Hoppe


Document processing. Manual data entry. Cumbersome file sharing. Workplace technology continues to change the way we work, allowing employees to work smarter. Chief information officers are now faced with more options that ever for what their company should invest in. The workplace is evolving at an ever-accelerating rate, which means that the capabilities of workplace technology are too. New technology is constantly coming out with the aim to upgrade some aspect of work life. 

Here's a list of recent workplace tech you may not be familiar with yet.


The advancements of workplace technology are having organizations rethink the ‘place’ in ‘workplace’. Boeing, Facebook, DHL and Microsoft are early adaptors in fully integrating virtual reality with their employees. This mixed reality aims to make workplace tasks and trainings more integrated and comprehensive. NASA was the first to use virtual reality to train its pilots, simulating spaceflights. Slowly, more companies started using VR training programs for their staff, like  UPSKFC, and Siemens. It’s particularly popular in fields that require physically demanding and potentially dangerous tasks to be completed, because VR allows you to provide hands-on training in a safe and controlled environment. HR leaders and hiring managers are now able to simulate on-the-job experiences as an aid in recruiting, onboarding and training in a number of industries. 

According to predictions by IT research and consultancy company Gartner, it’s estimated that 20% of large enterprises will begin adopting some form of these solutions this year. Virtual or augmented reality was once perceived as novelty in the corporate world. However, major companies investing in and adopting this technology early on are signaling a future trend, and companies are likely to follow industry leaders.

VR compliments the continued rise of remote workers. Virtual office locations are rapidly replacing traditional office spaces. According to The New York Times, 43% of Americans surveyed preform some type of remote work. Virtual reality aims to provide a more seamless experience for coworkers to connect than the countless communication and collaboration tools that have historically dominated. Virtual reality can transform a simple voice call interaction with a remote worker to an immersive experience.


As technology improves to benefit the workplace, so do the skills of black hat hackers. From malware to data leaks and everything in between, cyber security breaches show no signs of slowing down in 2020.  Cyber security threats continue to evolve, and all employees need to be diligent. Countless software options to improve cyber security are available and necessary, but security needs to be infused with company culture to be effective. No one expects to be the target of a cyber-attack, but any employee can be a target. Educating all employees at a company to be security champions empowers everyone to work smarter and decrease risks.


The Internet of Things (IoT) is the ability of smart devices to connect to the home or workplace to provide efficient solutions for the end-user. A recent report shows that by 2020, an estimated 200 billion IoT devices will be in circulation, and more than 65% of enterprises will adopt IoT products.

Businesses can leverage IoT technology in a number of ways, the major limits being budget and imagination. Increasing energy efficiencies is one unexpected benefit of this workplace technology. Businesses use a massive amount of energy, and electricity, heating, cooling, and machinery are often used in excess. This is because of an inability to monitor or control output. By integrating IoT into the workplace, energy control becomes a more simplified, straightforward process. Motioned censor lighting and smart HVAC systems can help keep employees comfortable, while saving businesses money in the long run.

IoT can also improve day-to-day operations by providing employees with beneficial capabilities. Voice-activated technology, smart desks, enhanced meeting spaces, presentation tools and streamlined communication techniques are all IoT capabilities that are being integrated in to the workplace. These connected tools can increase efficiencies across an organization, positively impacting operational processes.

According to IoT for All, "The Internet of Things is a new way to collect data about your operations and your customers. But because it uses physical sensors or devices it also allows you to interact with your operations and customers. Because these devices are out in the real world actively collecting information or interacting, they are like an extension of you, or your company’s representatives. They extend your ability to perceive and understand, to monitor and control. And because they are machines, they extend your ability to automate and optimize." IoT is here to stay for the foreseeable future and will continue to evolve with new innovative uses.


Cloud computing describes the act of storing, managing and processing data online, rather than on your own network or physical computer. 

'The cloud' has been a buzzword in the corporate world for a few years and has already been widely adapted. According to Spiceworks, the average company spends 21% of IT budgets is allocated to cloud-based services. Cloud computing has changed the way that the workplace has organized itself. There are different types of cloud set ups for the different needs of organizations, like security, storage size and budget. Benefits of the cloud technology include accessibility, flexibility, collaboration, scalability, cost savings, security, agility, and innovation. Companies need data to be available and modified in real time, meaning that cloud technology will continue grow into mainstream popularity and percentage of IT budget spend. IT businesses have that companies that fail to adopt the cloud in a timely manner risk becoming technology dinosaurs. 


AI-enabled machines are becoming increasingly present as we go about our day-to-day activities, and the workplace is not an exception. Cutting-edge businesses have adopted artificial Intelligence in numerous ways for different departments and needs. From the start of the job application process, AI can be used to pre-screen job candidates, and a fifth of Fortune 500 companies have used an AI-driven interviewing tool.

AI can make some people uncomfortable because it is often thought of as something that will replace humans and lead to job losses. According to Forbes, “AI machines will help us do our jobs more efficiently, rather than replace us. A key idea is that they will take over the mundane aspects of our role, leaving us free to do what humans do best – tasks which require creativity and human-to-human interaction.”

Recently, the New York Times highlighted a customer service centers that utilize AI. While a customer service representative in a insurance company's call center talks to a customer over the phone, AI can help coach the caller’s performance.

“Talking too fast? The program flashes an icon of a speedometer, indicating that he should slow down.

Sound sleepy? The software displays an “energy cue,” with a picture of a coffee cup.

Not empathetic enough? A heart icon pops up.”

Using A.I. to manage workers in conventional 9-to-5 jobs is controversial. It’s clear why executives would want A.I. that can track everything their workers do. Representatives are able to get instant feedback in a way that a human supervisor couldn't provide. However, some employees see interaction with AI as dehumanizing, or fear that their position may be replaced by AI.

IBM has utilized Watson, its natural language question-answering AI platform, in countless applications since it was first introduced in 2010. Last year IBM used the supercomputer to help calculate employee raises with a high success rate. From winning a Jeopardy! challenge to recommending treatment options for lung cancer patients to business uses, Watson's AI can be used in a wide range of question answering. IBM is helping other companies become early adapters in AI with Watson. Personalized customer experiences, streamlined process, and minimized risk are now all possible with artificial intelligence. 


Employees receive more communications than ever before and are distributed more widely across the globe. There are dozens of general communication technologies in place, but how do organizations rise about the noise and get the attention of others when it really matters?

Critical communications for corporate safety can cover a wide range of incidents, including workplace harassment, wellness checks to remote employees, weather closings, reporting personnel issues, business disruptions and alerting employees in case of an emergency. Technology solutions now exists to address these challenges faced by organizations. 

Key personnel can communicate with employees in real-time during incident response. Geo-targeted notifications helps the right message get out to the right people. Remote employees can be easily checked in on with 2-way messaging. Anonymous tips empowers employees to share potentially life saving information without having to worry. Read our 2019 report below to learn how companies are preparing for workplace safety with technology. 

2019 Workplace Safety and Preparedness Survey

How Parking and Intake Practices Can Impact Hospital Safety

June 18, 2019 Blog Author: Mary Kate McGrath

Hospital safetyAlthough creating a good impression during parking and intake can enhance the patient experience, patient transition zones can become first attack zones outside the usual perimeter of hospital security. With many hospitals reducing hospital security budgets, technology can provide a solution.

Numerous studies demonstrate hospital treatments tend to have more positive outcomes when patients trust their health care systems. The reason for trust being such an important factor is that patients with low levels of trust are more likely to suffer psychological distress and less likely to accept healthcare recommendations; while patients with high levels of trust will be more likely to attend follow-up appointments and be more accepting of therapies that require behavioral change.

Building trust starts with the first impression as patients enter the hospital environment. The parking and intake process - sometimes referred to as the “patient transition zone” - is the first opportunity hospitals have to create an impression, and it needs to be a good impression. Research conducted by Ohio State University's Fisher School of Business found that, when people form a first impression, they tend to stick with it and interpret subsequent signals consistent with the first impression - good or bad.

To provide the best possible first impression, some hospitals provide services such as valet parking and/or attendants whose job it is to “meet and greet” patients as they arrive to guide them through the intake process. In addition to providing useful and welcoming services, staff in the roles of valets and patient attendants help hospitals address the three primary factors that contribute to patients' bad first impressions - long wait times, poor communication, and a lack of empathy.

The Patient Transition Zone is Also the First Attack Zone

By their nature, patient transition zones are outside hospital premises and therefore outside the usual perimeter of hospital security. This leaves valets and patient attendants in the first line of attack without the same level of protection as employees within the hospital. Not only might they be the initial targets of an active shooter, they are also likely to be the subject of physical attacks if an event (i.e. a long wait or communication breakdown) triggers a violent reaction from an anxious patient or family member.

To address this issue, hospitals could expand the security perimeter and allocate security personnel to protect patient transition zones. These security officers would have to be trained in behavioral health to complement the training given to patient attendants; which would either involve spending more money at a time when many hospitals are trimming their security budgets, or diluting existing security inside the hospital premises at a time when hospitals are reporting an increase in security incidents.

An alternative solution is to issue staff working outside the security perimeter with employee safety apps. The apps can be used to call hospital security when concerns exist that a situation (caused - for example - by a long wait or communication breakdown) could escalate into a violent incident. The apps can also be used to collect anonymous tips from employees.

Why Mobile Employee Safety Apps are the Most Effective Solution

Mobile employee safety apps are widely used in many different environments to improve security responses to violent incidents. They are more accessible than wall-mounted or desk-mounted panic buttons (which would naturally be inappropriate in a patient transition zone with neither walls nor desks), and more reliable than wearable devices that connect with a central unit, because these systems inform 9-1-1 of the location of the central unit and not the location of the emergency.

Furthermore, when employees supply employees with wearable panic buttons, the employee has responsibility for keeping the panic button charged and remembering to wear it on duty. Few people forget to charge or carry their mobile devices; and while it may take a second longer to tap a mobile screen than press the button on a wearable device, the minutes saved by informing 9-1-1 or security immediately of the exact location and the nature of the emergency can save multiple lives.

protecting healthcare workers

How to Manage Tail Spend in Enterprise Communication Software

June 18, 2019 Blog Author: Andrea Lebron

How to manage tail spend in enterprise communication softwareThe commonly quoted “statistic” that tail spend accounts for 20% of total purchasing costs - and is generated by 80% of suppliers - comes from the misapplication of the Pareto Principle. The Principle states “roughly 80% of the effects comes from 20% of the causes”; and although nobody really knows how much is spent in “off-contracted spend”, “non-PO spend”, “maverick spend”, or whatever term it is given, the 20% “statistic” is a convenient figure to use because it is large enough for enterprises to sit up and take notice, while not being too large a figure to seem incredulous.

However, in some areas, the “statistic” of 20% tail spend came and went a long time ago. In 2017, research company Gartner predicted 38% of IT spending was line of business “shadow” IT spending, and some analysts believe that, by 2020, “line of business technology investments will be almost on a par with that of the IT department”. That may not be the case in every area of business - or indeed for every enterprise - but when it comes to finding candidates for unmanaged tail spend, enterprise communication software is a leading contender.

Why Enterprise Communication Software Flies Under the Radar

In many respects the use of “shadow” enterprise communication software develops in the same way as shadow IT. Enterprises may have a contracted workplace communication system - like they may have a cloud-based compute infrastructure - but it doesn't necessarily do everything its users want it to. Take Slack for example. Many enterprises use Slack for its collaboration capabilities and it is claimed that using Slack in the workplace can half internals emails.

However, Slack can't do everything. It lacks automated mass notifications and task assignments. It has a complicated user interface disliked by many novice users, and it can be hard to search for previous messages or workflows. Most importantly for some departments (i.e. legal, finance, HR, etc.), Slack lacks the security of other enterprise communication software. Significantly, there's no end-to-end encryption - making data vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks.

Read More: Comparing Notification System Tools for Critical Communication

Because Slack (and most other enterprise communication software) can't please all the people all the time, users download alternate communication solutions - often starting at the free level before subscribing to the enterprise level to take advantage of the solution's full capabilities. This happens so often in cloud-based IT infrastructures - where resources can be launched with the click of a mouse - it is difficult not to see it happening with enterprise communication software.

It's not necessarily the case that tail spend on enterprise communication software always flies under the radar. In some enterprises it's presence is acknowledged, but nothing is done about it because a) there are too many other priorities, b) the scale of the problem is not understood, so addressing it does not seem justifiable, or c) the scale of the problem is understood and it's too big a problem to address because of streamlining multiple suppliers, processes, and policies into one.

Survey Finds Employees Aren't Aware of Cyber Attack Procedures

How to Get Communication Tail Spend Back onto the Radar

Failing to address tail spend on enterprise communication software can result not only in unmanaged costs, but also a loss of business efficiency (due to different communication systems duplicating the same tasks), and an increased risk of data breaches and other security issues. Unfortunately there's no quick fix for getting communication tail spend back onto the radar as the tail end management process involves multiple steps:

#1 Identify the Scale of the Problem

If the enterprise does not yet understand the scale of the problem, it needs to retrieve data relating to how much is spent on enterprise communication software (authorized or not), and analyze the data in order to determine how much of total spend is tail spend.

#2 Identify Savings Opportunities

The analysis should uncover different communication systems duplicating the same roles, so there should be opportunities to eliminate multiple services in favor of one or two, with the preferred service providers being the ones that offer discounts for enterprise-scale subscriptions.

#3 Source and Contract

As mentioned earlier, no enterprise communication software can please all the people all the time, so source the solution most favored by the majority of users - and possibly a second solution to overcome the limitations of the first - and bring them under the control of procurement.

#4 Measure Reduction in Tail Spend

Once the first three steps are completed, go back to step #1 to analyze spend on enterprise communication software and measure the reduction in tail spend. It is also important to educate users in the risks associated with self-procurement to prevent tail spend returning to an unmanaged state.

One study by the Hackett Group (registration required) found that, on average, enterprises can achieve a 7.1% reduction in spend by better managing tail spend. Naturally this percentage is going to vary according to the scale of the problem in each individual enterprise; but, if costs can be reduced by 7.1%, it is logical to assume business efficiency will increase by a similar percentage and there will be an overall reduction in the enterprise's exposure to security threats.

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How This Dallas Nonprofit Manages Safety Amid Major Development

June 11, 2019 Blog Author: Amelia Marceau

Downtown DallasThe downtown area of Dallas is in the midst of a major renaissance, adding high-rise towers with offices, restaurants and stores. The building boom has encouraged city leaders and local businesses to take a new approach to security planning for the downtown area, considering a variety of risks including fires, severe weather, and crime. 

The city was tested recently when a fire out of a local restaurant’s kitchen hit the downtown area. The incident, which occurred in February 2019, resulted in massive transit shutdowns and delays, though luckily no residents were injured. The fire spread to other parts of the city, causing a delay in service of all Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) modes and suspending transportation in other areas. With about 140,000 employees work in the downtown area and over 250,000 people employed in the city center, there’s a lot of necessary emergency communication to be done.

It takes an average of five minutes and 17 seconds for the fire department to respond to a fire nationwide (one minute and 15 seconds to get ready and four minutes and two seconds to reach their destination). There is very little time to notify the necessary people of an ongoing incident. The kitchen fire in downtown emphasized to local officials why fast and convenient emergency notification is an absolute necessity for local officials. 

Related Blog: What Does a Crisis Management Plan Mean for Cities Like Miami?

Downtown Dallas Inc. (DDI) is a private, non-profit advocacy group that facilitates funding in downtown Dallas for public safety issues, maintenance and repair, capital improvements, economic development and planning/transportation. The City of Dallas has a mass notification system, but the alerts are not specific to the downtown area. That's where DDI steps in, and the firm uses its own mass notification system to notify commercial property owners, operators and facility and security personnel of incidents, and then they alert their employees, residents and others. 

DDI sent out five alerts giving status updates on the fire, including the shutdown of a nearby DART stop and adjacent streets.

Martin Cramer, Vice President of DDI, says the focus of their alerts is just for the commercial, residential, hotels and schools within the downtown area. “We let them know if there’s a critical incident, such as a road closure, a fire or whatever impacts downtown as far as egress and getting people in and out of downtown, or if there’s an incident. They’ll get the message from us and they’ll blast it out internally.”

Related Article: Should Hotels be Offering Panic Buttons to Their Staff?

DDI uses their mass alert system to send about 150 email and text alerts a year, not counting follow-up messages, about all kind of incidents. Alert messages are sent to 1,700 owners, operators, and security and safety staff who are responsible for sharing that message internally with the employees and residents in that location. DDI is able to pre create templates so that a DDI or Office of Emergency Management administrator only needs to fill in the basics, such as dates, times, and what streets are affected in a particular area. Currently, DDI has 20-30 pre created templates at the ready.

DDI’s messages are targeted towards the more than 30 companies that have their headquarters in downtown Dallas, including AT&T, Comerica Bank, Hunt Oil and the Dallas Morning News. The downtown area also features over 190 shops, approximately 500 restaurants and 100 live music, art and cultural venues, as well as 52 acres of greenspace across 40 parks and plazas.

“A mass notification is a trusted message, where social media is great but there’s so much misinformation,” Cramer said. “Anybody can post on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can’t trust it to be accurate. Coming from DDI or local government, you can trust that messaging.”

While the city of Dallas has its own mass notification software, DDI specifically keeps up with events and alerts people in the downtown area.  Learn more in our latest case study! New call-to-action

Do We Underestimate How Much Nurses Deal with on a Daily Basis?

June 4, 2019 Blog Author: Samantha Hoppe

Do We Underestimate How Much Nurses Deal with on a Daily Basis?State Senator Maureen Walsh of Washington angered nurses across the nation. Walsh made remarks on the senate floor in April 2019 while discussing a bill that would ensure nurses receive uninterrupted meal and rest breaks so that they can provide the highest quality patient care.

The Senator had issues with the bill and proposed a surprise amendment, along with commentary about what nurses do. Her inaccurate comments gained national attention, causing an uproar among nurses and their supporters.

Washington Senator Walsh said the following when discussing a proposed state bill HB 1155:

“I understand helping with employees and making sure that we have rest breaks and things like that. But I also understand that we need to care for patients first and foremost. And by putting these types of mandates on a critical access hospital that literally serves a handful of hospitals.  I would submit to you that those (small hospital) nurses probably do get breaks. They probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day.”

Not surprisingly, Walsh’s statement quickly received a negative reaction from the public and went viral. Nurses everywhere are responding that they are actually busy saving lives and rarely receive their lawful breaks.

The Washington State Hospital Association’s President and CEO, Cassie Sauer, posted a statement confirming that they do not support Senator Walsh’s amendment. The Washington State Nurses Association (WSNA) says Senator Walsh’s recent comments are not only disrespectful but also, “one of the most demeaning statements on the nursing profession since Joy Behar’s 2015 ‘doctor’s stethoscope’ comments on The View.” The public's reaction did not end there. 

Backlash for Senate Floor Remarks

A petition has been created for Senator Maureen Walsh to shadow a nurse for a twelve-hour shift. The popular petition was started by a nurse in Chicago, Juliana Bindas, asking Ms. Walsh to spend a day shadowing a nurse so she could gain a deeper understanding of what a nurse’s basic shift is like.

“Nurses don’t really have time to even take a bathroom break, let alone play a deck of cards,” Ms. Bindas said. “It is completely false. We are busy taking care of your family members; we are making sure our patients are comfortable.”

A State Senator Who Said Nurses ‘Play Cards’ While on the Job May Shadow One(Photo Credit: Ted S. Warren/Associated Press)

The petition is not the only negativity faced by Ms. Walsh for her comments on nurses. Her office has received mail bins full of playing cards from people who did not appreciate her commentary. The senator said she had received hundreds of decks of cards and thousands of phone calls protesting her comments.

Two days after Walsh’s senate floor remarks, the WSNA website crashed after too many people viewed a blog post describing Walsh's comments as disrespectful and patronizing.

There has also been a flurry of activity on social media. Nurses voiced their frustrations with humor and gave onlookers a glimpse of a nurse’s typical day. Here's a sample of how Twitter reacted:

About the Bill & Amendment

The bill that was being discussed at the time of Senator’s Walsh’s comments was House Bill 1155. The bipartisan bill mandates uninterrupted meal and rest periods for nurses. Walsh was pushing for an amendment that would exempt smaller, rural hospitals from this mandate.

This bill hopes to close a loophole in the mandatory overtime law for frontline healthcare workers. Walsh’s proposed amendment, SB 5344, would keep worker protections at status quo or rolls them back at “critical access” hospitals, which usually have 25 beds or fewer in rural areas with small populations.

Recent reports suggest that smaller, rural hospitals would not benefit from Walsh’s amendment. Kate Rogers has written for CNBC about how the nation has been facing a nursing shortage and how this shortage may be worse among rural hospitals. Denying uninterrupted breaks and imposing overtime would make recruiting nurses to rural hospitals even more challenging.

Ms. Bindas, creator of the petition, spoke about the need for nurse breaks with the New York Times. “If there was a way we could have an uninterrupted lunch break it would be important not only for the physical but mental and emotional as well,” she said. “So you can also take care of yourself.”

In her follow up statement, Walsh has doubled down in her support of excluding small hospitals from the meal and rest break requirements.

"[House Bill 1155] will impose inflexible staffing requirements on hospitals that will dramatically increase their costs. I am worried that 61 of our critical access hospitals, those small-town hospitals with 25 beds or fewer, are already operating in the red. This will make them redder, and I am worried this added cost will force some of them to close. It isn’t proper for the Legislature to micromanage the way hospitals manage their staffing." 

Registered nurses at critical access hospitals in rural parts of the country spoke out to say there is “no good reason to exempt patients at critical access hospitals from safety standards”. Nicole Worley, a nurse at Lourdes Medical Center in Pasco, Washington, wrote an opinion column, defending why hospitals like hers should not be exempt from these rights, including financially. 

“Contrary to some claims, the majority of Washington’s critical access hospitals are financially stable and can afford to hire one or two extra employees to ensure patients are safe and fully covered. According to Washington Department of Health data, for 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, the total surplus income for the 40 WA critical access hospitals was $208,657,776. No more than 30 percent of critical access hospitals have negative margins in any given year, and that is usually due to short-term factors such as capital expansions.” states Worley.

1+ Minute Video: Is Healthcare lagging behind in safety communications?

Concern Over Long Hours

On the senate floor in April, Walsh made several claims about the nursing profession.

“If nurses get tired, let's stop letting them do 12 hours shifts, let's make them do 8-hour shifts. 12 hours, I know they want it but, then they come back and start talking out of both sides of their mouth and telling us how tired they are," says Senator Walsh.

Three 12-hour shifts a week is a common schedule for hospital nurses. Some people incorrectly view this as nurses working “only” three days a week. This allows nurses to have a flexible schedule and hopefully achieve work-life balance. The amendment would a require nurses to work five days a week to earn full-time pay. But nurses don’t choose this profession for the schedule. Nurses work these long shirts first and foremost for their patients.

One of the most significant benefits for nurses who work 12-hour shifts is continuity of care. Rather than a patient having three nurses in a 24-hour period, they have two: a day nurse and a night nurse. This rapport has been proven to help to improve outcomes and recovery. Longer shifts also help reduce communication related errors. The Joint Commission reported that at least 80% of serious medical errors result from a miscommunication between caregivers during handoff.

Nurses have also shared their experiences with these shifts, and 12-hour shifts are rarely only 12 hours. A 12-hour shift can easily run more than two hours over because nurses usually stay to hand off to other nurses, check on their patients and write reports. Nurses aren’t able to walk away the moment their shift changes if they are in the middle of helping a patient.

The Washington State Hospital Association was surprised by the amendment. “A nurse could be in the middle of a life-saving surgical procedure and there would be no exception to allow them to stay and complete their work” says Sauer. There are drawbacks to 12-hour shifts, but this type of schedule was developed and is standard primarily at the request of nurses, according to Sauer's blog post.

Senator Walsh says she offered the amendment limiting nurses to eight-hour shifts “to show there is more than one way to address labor’s argument that nurses are fatigued after working longer shifts.”

Senator Walsh’s Apology

Senator Walsh has apologized since making her senate floor remarks. It is clear that she regrets making the comments. On April 22, the senator issued a statement via press release.  Although the media has blown up and taken the quote out of context, Walsh admits her remarks crossed the line.  She said she was trying to point out that the staffing needs of smaller, rural hospitals were different from those of the larger hospitals. “I really don’t believe nurses at our critical access hospitals spend their days playing cards, but I did say it, and I wish I could reel it back,” she said in the statement.

The executive director of the Washington State Nurses Association, Sally Watkins, said she did not think that a hospital’s size, location or number of beds ought to make a difference. “It should not matter where a nurse works: All nurses should have a break,” Dr. Watkins said.

In regards to her eight-hour shift amendment suggestion, Walsh has listen to the public’s feedback: “The thousands of nurses who have contacted my office have told me loud and clear that there are many who prefer to work 12-hour shifts so they can spend more time with their families. In recognition of that, I support the removal of the amendment and am confident it will be stripped off.” Walsh says in her statement.

Walsh has profusely apologized for her insensitive and inaccurate comments, and has acknowledged the viral petition: “I understand from news accounts that a petition is being circulated urging me to spend a day shadowing a nurse at a local hospital for 12 hours, and walk a mile in her shoes,” she said. “I look forward to receiving it and am happy to accept.” At this time, is it not apparent if Senator Walsh has shadowed a nurse’s shift yet.

In the end, the Washington State Legislature passed SHB 1155! The bill was signed by the governor on May 8 and the bill will go into effect in 2020. The final bill provides commonsense break and overtime protections to all nurses and techs in all hospitals across the state – with no eight-hour workday limit and no exclusion of Critical Access Hospitals.

According to the Washington State Nurses Association, “this bill will provide needed relief to nurses and other frontline health care workers – and, most importantly, it will help keep patients safe.”

2018 Healthcare Survey Report 

A Macro Issue Is Brewing For Women in Economics

June 4, 2019 Blog Author: Samantha Hoppe

Women in economicsThe entertainment industry and politics have felt a long overdue reckoning from the #MeToo moment, weeding out harassers and abusers out of positions of power in their industries. Some argue that the world of economics has gone largely unscathed so far, but not due to a lack of incidents.

Despite the wider #MeToo movement, many women in the financial advisory industry who have been sexually harassed are still reluctant to come forward and report the abuse.

Related Blog: Sexual Harassment in Hollywood and the Similarities to the  Everyday Workplace

It’s no surprise that sexual harassment is an issue in financial services, as shown in many surveys. In a new survey, nearly 62 percent of respondents who were harassed or witnessed harassment said they did not use the protocols those firms have in place to address the incident. That number is nearly 66 percent for women.

There are many reasons respondents did not report incidents. Some feared they would be socially excluded within the office, or that their offender would retaliate. In some instances, the offender was the victim’s manager, making matters more complicated, or they worked in a culture where that their complaint would not be taken seriously.

Read More: Understanding Workplace Violence against Women

“The culture was such that I did not believe management would do anything,” wrote one respondent of the WealthManagement survey. “When I mentioned it to management in my annual review (not a formal complaint or filing), they laughed and said it was ‘the nature of the beast.’”

Nearly 80 percent of financial advisers in a recent InvestmentNews survey said sexual harassment is a problem in the financial advice industry. More than 60 percent of the 345 participants in the survey were male.

Three in 10 advisers said they'd personally experienced sexual harassment — including assault, unwanted contact or requests, or suggestive remarks or messages — in the workplace. Five in 10 said they'd witnessed or experienced sexual harassment in the industry at least a couple of times.

Have enough changes been made to address sexual harassment in workplaces?

In 1996, nearly 2,000 women joined a case against Smith Barney Inc, for sexual harassment and pay discrimination. This case, nicknamed the “boom-boom room” suit, gained public attention and exposed the sordid antics of Wall Street.

Twenty years later, this change is less obvious.

“You may no longer have strippers coming for afternoon entertainment, but that doesn’t mean you are treated as an equal,” said Anne C. Vladeck of the New York employment law firm Vladeck, Raskin & Clark. “It’s not quite as blatant as what went on in the boom-boom room, but it’s still there in a way that makes it very hard for women to succeed. Companies on Wall Street are just not changing.”

“If it’s a high producer within the firm who’s doing the harassing, you’re going to find a lot of the times that there’s even less stomach by the firm to go after that person and hold them accountable precisely because they are making the firm so much money,” says Eric Bachman, a principal with Zuckerman Law, where he is the chair of the discrimination and retaliation practices.

Many in financial services chalk it up to an industry norm, an ingrained culture, one where victims are trained to develop a thick skin and move on.

Women have been told time and time again, either verbally or through inaction, that harassment isn’t a big deal. You should just put on thicker skin and get over it.” says Alan Moore, co-founder of XY Planning Network.

“And so we haven’t given women a way to actually end the harassment without basically having to quit their job and move on.” He continues. Rather than speaking up, some victims choose to go to another firm or, in some instances, leave the economics world altogether.

Read the Latest Workplace Violence Statistics

In the early 1990’s inappropriate behavior toward female colleagues was embedded in the industry culture. In today’s culture this behavior still persists in a more closeted, one-on-one fashion rather than industry-wide.

Female advisers agreed that while the industry atmosphere for women is better today than in the past, it is probably still worse than in most other industries because of the high ratio of men to women. For example, of the more than 83,000 professionals holding a certified financial planner designation at the end of 2018, only 23 percent were female, according to CFP Board statistics.

On March 18, 2019, the American Economic association (AEA) released the results from the survey of 9,000 economists about the professional climate in economics. According to the AEA, the findings demonstrate that many members of the profession have suffered harassment and discrimination during their careers. This includes overt acts of abuse and subtler forms of marginalization. A full analysis remains to be done, but the results are cause for concern.

The 47-question survey was sent in November 2018 to more than 45,000 current and former AEA members. 9,000 responded, about 20 percent of those who were asked, which is a high rate for a voluntary survey.

Leaders in the economics field are appropriately “concerned and disturbed” over what the survey revealed. Janet L. Yellen, the former Federal Reserve chief who will take over as president of the association next year, said the raw numbers made the extent of the profession’s problems clear. She said that survey results show showed “an unacceptable culture” in the profession. The AEA Executive Committee has agreed to take additional steps that include establishing a formal policy on harassment and discrimination. Economists that violate the new anti-harassment code will face professional sanction, including the potential loss of prestigious awards.

The New York Times Reports that “Nearly 100 female economists say a peer or a colleague has sexually assaulted them. Nearly 200 say they were the victim of an attempted assault. And hundreds say they were stalked or touched inappropriately” according to the survey. Half of the women who responded to the survey said they had been treated unfairly because of their sex, compared with 3 percent of men.

Survey Finds Employees Aren't Aware of Critical Workplace Safety Procedures

People of color and those who don’t identify as heterosexual are also far more likely to report disrespect in the field. The survey reports that only 14 percent of black economists and 25 percent of gay and lesbian economists agree that they “are respected within the field.” Women and other minority groups are making substantial strides of progress and leadership roles in many STEM fields. However, economics remains dominated by white men.

  • 48% of women experienced discrimination based on sex
  • 69% of women felt that their work was not taken as seriously as colleagues
  • 48% of women have not presented a question or idea to avoid harassment
  • 23% of women have not applied for or taken a job to avoid harassment

“It’s bad for economics,” Mr. Bernanke said. “It’s very unfair to those who are suffering that discrimination, because economics is a fascinating and interesting and lucrative field, and we don’t want to be excluding people for no good reason. We appear to be dissuading talented people from entering the field.”

According to the New York Times, the survey, if anything, “probably understates the problems. Despite efforts to reach former members, it left out many people who left the profession after facing discrimination or harassment, or who decided against becoming economists at all.”

A “discipline-wide reporting system” to document abuse has been called for by many young economists and upcoming leaders in the field. Instances of harassment and abuse often cross institutional lines. The newly created ombudsman position is an attempt to address this challenge by the AEA.

Women said the results were not, on one level, a surprise, confirming what many have experienced. But they said there was value in having numbers that show how widespread the problems are.

What other employees are saying about workplace safety

As economists, numbers are important. Rave recently conducted a workplace survey that reflects similar high levels of abuse in surprising fields like economics. We've compiled the results from several corporate fields in our annual survey: 

2019 Workplace Safety and Preparedness Survey

The Role Communication Plays in Workplace Safety for Nurses

May 21, 2019 Blog Author: Mary Kate McGrath

workplace safety for nursesEven though the healthcare industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in the United States, reports show that rates of violent workplace incidents are higher for nurses and medical practitioners on average. Communication is critical during incidents and plays a major role in workplace safety for nurses. 

There are currently 3.9 million Resident Nurses, 4 million home care aides, 270,000 Nurse Practictioners and 724,500 LPNs/LVNs in the U.S. and women account for 87% of the overall nursing workforce. Statistics show that nurses endure staggering amounts of physical and verbal abuse, often from the patients they treat.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that workplace violence is four times more common in healthcare than in the private industry. U.S. healthcare workers experience the most nonfatal workplace injuries compared to other professions, according to the New England Journal of Medicine. Healthcare and social assistance workers make up only 12.2% of the workforce, but nearly 75% of workplace assaults occur in the healthcare industry. There are four main types of workplace violence against healthcare workers - criminal intent, patient or patient’s family, employee-on-employee, or a personal relationship.

The number of workplace violence incidents has risen over the past decade, which can be due to a variety of factors. These include wait-times, budget cuts resulting in less security staff, states cutting funding for preventative mental health services, psychiatric patients going to emergency rooms for treatment, and staff unsure what constitutes violence. All types of nurses are susceptible to workplace violence, including home care nurses or workers.

There are several main impacts of the nurse safety epidemic. The first is financial - though nursing employment rates are growing faster than any other occupation, there is still a staffing shortage due to workplace violence incidents, among other factors such as an aging workforce and the influx of patients. The American Nurses Association (ANA) predicts more than 1 million new registered nurses will be needed by 2022 to fulfill healthcare needs in the U.S. For hospitals and healthcare facilities. The shortage will lead to higher rates of patient dissatisfaction, as well as negative patient outcomes, such as higher readmissions, medication errors, and increased patient mortality.

States Are Taking The Lead To Protect Nurses

No federal law currently requires hospitals and healthcare facilities to implement programs to prevent workplace violence. As a result, various states have passed laws and guidelines to protect nurses and other healthcare personnel. A handful of states require employer run workplace violence programs, while others designate penalties for assaults against nurses or other healthcare workers. 

A few states have passed significant legislation to better care for nurses. In Oregon, assaulting a nurse is considered a class C felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and $125,000 in fines. The state of New York classifies a physical attack against an RN or LPN as a Class D felony, subject to a maximum of seven years in prison. Legislative efforts will also hold organizations accountable for not making the premises and operations safe.

Being prepared ahead of time for “what if” can help organizations protect their nursing personnel and handle workplace violent incidents. But more can be done. According to Rave Mobile Safety’s Emergency Preparedness and Security Trends in Healthcare (Healthcare Survey), 29% of emergency managers and other supervisors said workplace violence was their biggest safety concern, yet only 32% ran drills once a year while 33% never ran drills. 

Investing in emergency preparedness may be expensive, but the damage done to healthcare organizations is more costly. The AHA estimates that U.S. hospitals spend $233 million a year on emergency preparedness training, with approximately $174.6 million of that amount being focused on violence-related issues The average out-of-court settlement for a workplace violence lawsuit is about $500,000, while the average jury award is approximately $3 Million. The cost for hospitals to provide uncompensated or insufficiently compensated care and treatment to victims of violence totaled $852.2 million. In addition, absenteeism related to workplace violence can cost hospitals $53.7 million per year.

Keeping Two-Way Communications Part of the Job

Hospitals and healthcare facilities must maintain continuity of operations while handling numerous challenges. The nature of healthcare facilities makes it particularly challenging to get messages out to their personnel, especially during a public health emergency or a critical event. Mass text messaging (92%), email (91%), and phone tree/voicemail (89%) are the top modes of communication hospitals and healthcare facilities use when they need to reach their personnel about workplace emergencies, including violent incidents. Emergency alerts through mass text messaging is the number-one preferred communication method whether healthcare professionals are working off-site or in the office, the Workplace Survey said.

FREE REPORT: Healthcare Emergency Preparedness and Security Trends

A mass notification system that allows hospitals and healthcare facilities to communicate with all of their personnel, whether they’re on-site, working in the field or traveling to different locations, is vital for continuity of business operations, especially during an emergency. Having a system that enables nursing supervisors, emergency managers, other officials, and their nursing staff to communicate with each other before a workplace violence incident occurs or seconds after is important to ensure everyone’s safety.

geo-poll-healthAn automated polling module, a feature within a mass notification system, can be used to further assist nurses, especially those who travel to care for patients. The polling feature adds an extra layer of protection for traveling nursing personnel, who often work in isolation and may need to resolve issues without immediate help from their employers or coworkers. If an incident occurs and a healthcare organization needs to do a wellness check on traveling staff, it can use an automated poll through SMS text, email and voice to determine where the workers are located and if they are safe. When traveling staff responds to this poll, they can automatically share their real-time location, even if nursing personnel hasn’t downloaded a personal safety app.

Making Safety More Personal

Safety and security for nurses go beyond metal detectors, surveillance cameras, controlled access to certain departments and other workplace emergency exercises.Healthcare organizations and nurses have to be ready for any type of violent incident. Safety managers must look out for their emotional and physical well-being, whether they’re in the office, walking to their car in the parking lot, or on the road traveling. 

Workplace violence incidents in healthcare are compounded because nurses don’t always report incidents, or the extent of a violent incident, to their employers. Many of these workers accept violence as part of the job, believe they didn’t sustain serious injuries, or are afraid of repercussions from supervisors. One solution to this dilemma is using a personal safety app. Many of these workers accept violence as part of the job, and believe they didn’t sustain serious injuries, will be ignored or will get in trouble with supervisors.

A personal safety app would include an emergency call button, as well as the ability for nurses to discreetly submit two-way tips anonymously, such as witnessing a sexual harassment incident. The app also allows nurse personnel to keep in contact with hospital security through a virtual escort. An emergency call button, also known as a distress call button, in an employee safety app can directly connect to an organization’s security staff.

Hospitals and healthcare facilities must maintain daily operations, but these organizations are  also grappling with how best to protect their nurses as they care for more patients, often in highly volatile and unpredictable situations. A mass notification system would enable hospitals and healthcare facilities to quickly and efficiently alert their nursing staff about a violent incident, as well as let them know what actions to take to keep them safe and secure. In addition, a personal safety app would be part of a healthcare organizations’ notification system.

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Best Practices for Rip and Replace Technology Projects

May 21, 2019 Blog Author: Mary Kate McGrath

rip and replace technology projectsWhen it comes to best practices for rip and replace technology projects, opinions vary from “if it ain't broken, don't fix it” to “big bang is best”. Most opinions fall into the middle ground of “improve what you can”, but this solution may not be not ideal in the long run. A business that takes the middle ground may find it extends the inefficiencies of a legacy system for just a few more years, after which a “big bang” replacement will be necessary anyway.

The biggest issue with sorting through these opinions is that many experts discuss replacing or upgrading entire IT infrastructures. In these circumstances, the advice provided is going to be irrelevant to a business that has identified inefficiencies in one area of its business because the cost and disruption of replacing an entire IT infrastructure to solve a problem in one area is not going to be worth it. It's the corporate equivalent of using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

However, the inefficiencies still exist, and the business has to decide whether to live with them, go for a short-term temporary fix, or rip and replace the offending technology. In the majority of cases, the decision will depend on how bad the inefficiencies are, what the impact is on the business, and whether the cost of ripping and replacing the offending technology can be justified in terms of enhanced performance or some other factor - such as security.

Survey Finds Employees Aren't Aware of Cyber Attack Procedures

Let's Discuss Emergency Notification Systems

A good example of an inefficient technology that doesn't require the replacement of an entire IT infrastructure is emergency notification systems. In many businesses around the country, the emergency notification system solely consists of a federally-mandated fire alarm. The primary reason this is an inefficient system is because it alerts the workforce to every type of emergency situation, not just a fire.

A fire alarm not only sends the wrong signal to people when an incident such as an active shooter occurs (i.e. evacuate rather than hide), the system may not connect with the right emergency service - if it connects with an emergency service at all. Often valuable minutes can be wasted contacting 9-1-1, explaining the nature and location of an incident, and waiting for an emergency response - minutes that may not only cost a business time and money, but could also cost employees their lives.

Some businesses have tried to overcome this issue by implementing secondary text messaging and PA systems as an “improve what you can” solution. However, these too have their inefficiencies inasmuch as they provide limited information to an entire workforce, whereas more information to a segment of the workforce would often be more appropriate. As a result they maximize business disruption, while still failing to connect direct with emergency services.

Related Article: Overcoming 5 Business Communication Challenges

Is a Rip and Replace Strategy Appropriate for Emergency Notifications?

This is largely going to depend on what system is already in place, what its inefficiencies are, and how ripping and replacing the existing system will enhance business operations, and - in this case - security. There are also limitations on exactly what parts of an existing system can be ripped. For example, fire alarms are federally mandated, so these have to stay in place. However, they could be integrated into a replacement system for when a fire actually occurs. 

Some potential inefficiencies have already been discussed - the failure to inform the workforce of the nature and location of the emergency, sending a workplace-wide alert when only a localized alert is necessary, and time wasted in contacting emergency services. If you add to these not knowing if every employee at risk of danger has been notified, a failure to support two-way communication, and not being able to use the system to expedite disaster recovery, there is a strong argument for ripping and replacing whatever elements of the emergency notification system you can.

The ideal replacement emergency notification system should use multiple channels of communication to alert whichever segments of the workforce are in danger. It should be capable of notifying 9-1-1 to the nature and location of the emergency, have message monitoring capabilities to identify any targeted, unresponsive member of the workforce, and support two-way communication to increase situational awareness during an incident and resolve it as quickly as possible. Any features that can expedite disaster recovery or prevent incidents from happening in the first place are additional bonuses.

A multimodal emergency notification system can help address all the above inefficiencies and more. Targeted members of the workforce and 9-1-1 can be notified simultaneously of an emergency with just three clicks from any Internet-connected device. Message dispatch and receipt are monitored via a user-friendly incident command dashboard, through which affected members of the workforce can provide feedback on the incident so resources are directed where they are most urgently required.

To further accelerate emergency response and minimize downtime, system administrators can upload details of their premises. This feature provides first responders with information such as access routes, floor plans and utility cut-off points. If gates and doors are equipped with automatic locking mechanisms, the key codes can also be uploaded to the platform, as well as the contact details for security personnel and incident command.

With regard to expediting disaster recovery, some platforms also include a geo-polling function that can survey off-shift employees about their availability to work additional hours, while an employee safety mobile app extension includes an anonymous tip texting capability employees can use to alert HR to insider threats. As was discussed in this article about active shooter incidents in business, anonymous tip texting can help overcome the issue employees being reluctant to report a colleague displaying pre-attack behaviors.

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How Out-of-Date is Your Disaster Recovery Plan?

May 14, 2019 Blog Author: Andrea Lebron

disaster recovery planAccording to a survey of disaster recovery decision makers, only one-in-seven businesses continuously update their disaster recovery plan. For the other businesses, the likelihood is that recovering from a disaster will be more expensive and time-consuming than planned - with some ultimately failing to recover at all.

Every few years, Disaster Recovery Journal partners up with research company Forrester Research to compile the “State of Disaster Recovery Preparedness Report”. The latest report (PDF) shows that, although more businesses have a disaster recovery plan than in previous reports, the frequency with which plans are updated and tested has fallen over the past ten years.

Disaster Recovery Preparedness Report_1The failure to update and test a disaster recovery plan can have significant consequences. If elements of a business's operations have changed since the last time its plan was updated and tested, its response to a disaster may not be as effective. Depending on the nature of the event, gaps in preparedness can result in recovery being more expensive and time-consuming than anticipated.

In terms of what gaps in preparedness might cost, a report compiled by the Ponemon Institute (PDF) put the average cost of an unplanned data center outage at $8,851 per minute once direct costs, indirect costs, and opportunity costs are taken into account. More serious disasters that can't be recovered from with the click of a mouse (i.e. hurricanes and bio-terrorism) will likely cost much more.

Survey Finds Employees Aren't Aware of Critical Workplace Safety Procedures

What is a Continuously Updated Disaster Recovery Plan?

A continuously updated disaster recovery plan is one in which the business's hardware inventory and personnel database is always kept up-to-date, and details of both are integrated into the plan in real time. The plan should contain Recovery Point Objectives (RPOs) and Recovery Time Objectives (RTOs) and a priority order for software applications so that business-critical processes are restored first.

Depending on the business's tolerance for downtime, there might need to be a backup worksite for key personnel. The backup worksite needs to mirror the “everyday” worksite, so this also needs to be kept up-to-date in order to minimize the impact of a disaster. Naturally, data needs to be continuously backed up, and the plan should account for how data can be accessed during a disaster.

To overcome the potential issue of on-site data being inaccessible during a disaster, many businesses use cloud-based services to maintain an off-site copy of sensitive and business-critical data. Although it can add to the administrative overhead to maintain two disaster recovery plans in unison, this is an ideal solution for accessing data remotely and for restoring operations quickly.

Why a Continuously Used Communications System is Also Important

At the center of a continuously updated disaster recovery plan there needs to be an emergency communications system in place that is used for day-to-day communications as well as for emergencies. The reason it should be used continuously is so employees are familiar with sending and receiving messages through the system, and won´t have to deal with something “new” during a stressful event.

The system needs to be resilient against typical communication outages during a disaster (i.e. phone and email) in order to ensure key personnel and their deputies are contactable as a disaster starts, and so that all personnel are kept informed throughout an event - both on-site personnel and remote workers. The system should also support segmentation so it is easier for key personnel to prioritize messages.

For the disaster recovery communications system to be fully effective, the system should be integrated with a personnel database - particularly in a business with substantial employee churn. There also needs to be a way of monitoring message receipt so that, if key member personnel are unreachable, deputies can be quickly found to fill their roles in the execution of the disaster recovery plan.

Some organizations use a reliable mass notification system capable of sending multi-modal emergency alerts simultaneously with just three clicks on any Internet-connected device. Unlimited segmentation enables targeted, two-way communications before, during, and after an emergency; and, if your business is connected to the WebEOC system, an extension for WebEOC enables incident managers to send all emergency communications from the same platform.

The ideal mass notification system is easy to synchronize with personnel databases, plus provides the option of an SMS opt-in/opt-out capability - which is ideal for businesses receiving guests and business contacts on their premises. A user-friendly management interface enables incident managers to identify personnel who have not acknowledged an emergency alert, plus the system also supports a geotargeted poll-based alerting feature which uses polls to check on the well-being of employees in certain locations or request volunteers to cover vacant shifts. 

Related Blog: How GE Appliances Performed Employee Wellness Checks During Major  Hurricanes


Assuming the Ponemon Institute's calculations are correct, gaps in preparedness could cost you more than $8,000 per minute. Communication is a key component of a disaster recovery plan; and, if you have a communications system that is not kept up-to-date or used regularly, it will likely undermine the rest of your plan.

Mass notification for corporate communications horizontal cta

60% of Active Shooter Incidents in 2018 Occurred in Businesses

May 7, 2019 Blog Author: Andrea Lebron

60 of Active Shooter Incidents in 2018 Occurred in BusinessesThe FBI’s recently-released “Active Shooter Incidents in the United States in 2018” report reveals that, of twenty-seven events designated active shooter incidents in 2018, sixteen occurred in businesses - the highest proportion of business-related incidents since the FBI defined it classification criteria.
According to the FBI’s criteria, there were twenty-seven active shooter incidents last year accounting for 85 deaths and 127 injuries. Naturally the incidents that received the highest profiles were the tragic events at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the Santa Fe High School, and the Tree of Life Synagogue. However, active shooter incidents at schools and houses of worship were thankfully rare.

A much higher proportion of active shooter incidents occurred in businesses -almost 60% according to the FBI ́s classification of a business shooting. This rate of business shootings is much higher than when the FBI compiled its first active shooter report covering the years 2000 to 2013, and two subsequent reports covering 2014/15 and 2016/17. Our table below illustrates this steep increase.

Year # of Active Shooter Events # in Business Category Percentage
2000-2013 160 (13 year total) 73 (13 year total) 45%
2014 20 6 30%
2015 20 9 45%
2016 20 7 35%
2017 30 10 33%
2018 27 16 59%


The Underlying Statistics are Cause for Concern

In its most recent reports, the FBI has distinguished between business shootings that occurred in environments generally open to the public (stores, malls, gas stations, etc.), and environments generally closed to pedestrian traffic (offices, factories, etc.). An analysis of this distinction reveals a slight trend of more active shooter incidents occurring in “closed” business premises.

Year # of Open Business Shootings # of Closed Business Shootings % Closed
2000 - 2013 n/a n/a n/a
2014 4 2 33%
2015 6 3 33%
2016 4 3 42%
2017 6 4 40%
2018 9 7 44%

The reason for this trend being concerning is that the perpetrator in closed-environment business shootings was often an employee or former employee who demonstrated “observable pre-attack behaviors” in the period prior to the incident. Had these characteristics been recognized and reported by colleagues - and employers acted on the information - the incidents may have been avoided.

Observable Pre-Attack Behaviors Identified by the FBI

In 2018, the FBI conducted a study assessing the pre-attack behaviors of shooters between 2000 and 2013 (PDF). The study found that only 25% of active shooter incidents were perpetrated by an individual with a diagnosed mental health issue; and, although the mental health of the individual was considered a factor, it was only one of “4 to 5” observable pre-attack behaviors.

In respect of closed-environment business shootings, the FBI identified eleven of twenty-four active shooters who were employed at the business where they committed their offenses had suffered a noticeable deterioration of their work performance. In ten of the cases studied, there had been an “adverse employment action” (i.e. disciplinary action or firing) before the event. Other factors included:

  • Deterioration of interpersonal interactions
  • The leakage of violent intent
  • Quality of thinking or communication suffers
  • Anger and physical aggression
  • Deterioration of physical health
  • Increased drug or alcohol abuse

The Reluctance to Report Co-Workers is an Issue

In the workplace, employees are often reluctant to report their co-workers. The 2018 Global Business Ethics Report (registration required) claimed reporting rates for “interpersonal misconduct” ranged between 30% (sexual misconduct) and 36% (discrimination). The report supports previous studies showing a reluctance to report co-workers for a range of topics from fraud to physical abuse.

The reasons why employees are reluctant to report co-workers vary from fear of retaliation, to concerns they will be regarded as the office snitch, to the belief management won´t take any action against the offender. These reasons are often justified. The Global Business Ethics Report claims 40% of employees experience retaliation after reporting misconduct, while HR Magazine reported last year that only half of reports concerning racial discrimination are dealt with effectively.

Solutions for Businesses to Prevent Active Shooter Events

It is very difficult for businesses to prevent active shooter events in environments open to the public - although solutions such as Rave Panic Button and Rave Alert can accelerate emergency response and provide timely warnings for employees in order to mitigate the impact of an active shooter incident.  However, for closed-environment businesses, a solution such as Rave Eyewitness can help prevent active shooter events by empowering employees to report pre-attack behaviors anonymously.

Anonymous tip texting services have proven to be successful when used by law enforcement agencies and university campuses, and they could be equally as successful in preventing active shooter incidents in closed-environment businesses. Employees simply send an anonymized SMS message to HR and, through the Rave Eyewitness dashboard, HR can identify developing trends and intervene to address the issues causing concern - whether they relate to pre-attack behaviors or any other type of misconduct.

Because tips are anonymized, the employee sending the tip cannot be identified and retaliated against. This will encourage further employees to submit tips when they observe pre-attack behavior, which in turn will help HR identify trends faster and act more swiftly. Furthermore, because anonymous texts are recorded in the Rave Eyewitness database, there is a level of accountability to increase employee confidence their tips will be acted on.

Find Out More about Anonymous Tip Texting from Rave Mobile Safety

No matter what criteria is used to produce the statistics, 2018 was a horrific year for active shooter incidents. In relation to closed-environment business shootings, fourteen people lost their lives and seventeen were seriously injured - deaths and injuries that could have been avoided if the perpetrators´ pre-attack behavior had been recognized, reported, and acted on.

Businesses have a duty of care to provide employees with a safe working environment in which measures are taken to reduce preventable risks to the minimum possible. Certainly the implementation of an anonymous tip texting service such as Rave Eyewitness can help minimize the risk of a closed-environment business shooting and the financial losses attributable to active shooter incidents.

To find out more about mitigating the risks of closed-environment active shooter incidents, do not hesitate to get in touch. Our team of security experts will be happy to answer your questions and explain how our solutions for businesses to prevent active shooter events work. They will also be able to organize a free demonstration of Rave Eyewitness in action tailored to your specific requirements.

 Workplace Violence Ebook

Should More Corporate Safety Plans Adopt National Incident Command System Components?

April 30, 2019 Blog Author: Andrea Lebron

national incident command systemMany corporate safety plans are “isolated” inasmuch as they deal with how organizations will respond individually in an emergency. However, when adopting components of the National Incident Command System, organizations can benefit from a unified, multi-agency response to an emergency.

Most organizations are required to have corporate safety plans under OSHA §1910.38. The plans should include specific procedures for how the organization will react in reasonably-anticipated workplace emergencies and assign responsibilities in areas such as communication, response management, disaster recovery, and business continuity.

Because individual organizations usually develop their own individual corporate safety plans, there is often no collaboration with other organizations or agencies. This can lead to the lack of an orderly, systematic response in the event of a widespread regional emergency such as a natural disaster or the outbreak of a contagious disease.

The Birth of the National Incident Command System

This was the situation facing fire departments in Arizona in the 1970s following a series of catastrophic wildfires throughout Arizona and California. The wildfires were responsible for considerable property damage and loss of life, and investigators found response problems were attributable to deficiencies in communication and management, rather than a lack of resources or the appropriate firefighting tactics.

The state's emergency managers determined that the regional fire departments' unique management structures did not scale effectively to deliver a unified, multi-agency response to regional emergencies. They subsequently developed the Incident Command System to provide a consistent, integrated framework for the management of all types of emergencies from traffic accidents to hostage crises.

The framework was adopted nationally and became the model for command structures at fires, crimes scenes, and other major incidents around the country - and internationally. It remained the national emergency management model until the establishment of the Department for Homeland Security in 2002 and the development of the National Incident Management System (NIMS).

Incident Command System Integrated into NIMS

The role of developing NIMS fell to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and, due to the proven effectiveness of the Incident Command System, its key components were integrated into the new system. All state-funded agencies are now required to follow NIMS protocols, and the scope of NIMS has been extended to include private-sector organizations who wish to join the system voluntarily.

The benefits for a private-sector organization of joining NIMS voluntarily include a unified approach to incident management, a standard command and emergency management structure, and a shared emphasis on emergency preparedness, mutual aid, and resource management. These benefits will certainly enhance communication, response management, disaster recovery, and business continuity during and after a widespread regional disaster, but they can also apply during smaller incidents as well.

Furthermore, FEMA helps private-sector organizations meet the criteria to become NIMS-compliant (see “The Fourteen Components of the Incident Command System” below). The agency provides training, personnel qualification and equipment certification, and help with resource management and technology support. These are all further benefits of joining NIMS voluntarily - particularly if your organization operates in a hazardous industry such as the energy, chemical, or waste industries.

The Fourteen Components of the Incident Command System

In order to voluntary join NIMS, a private-sector organization must comply with the “Private Sector NIMS Implementation Activities” - a revised version of the fourteen components of the Incident Command System divided into seven sections. Even if organizations have no intention of voluntarily joining NIMS, it can be beneficial to adopt some of the components in their corporate safety plans.

Section 1 - NIMS Adoption

1. When the organization has chosen to join NIMS, it is very important to ensure everyone is on board. FEMA recommends bringing in corporate leaders, trade associations, and incident management teams in the decision-making process, but it is very important to include the IT department as well.

2. Once the decision to join NIMS has been made, your organization´s key points of contact should be shared with the local emergency management authority. It is important contact details are kept up-to-date, so a system needs to be put in place to synchronize key personnel changes when they occur.

Section 2 - Command and Management

3. When an incident occurs that requires an emergency response (fire, medical, police, etc.), FEMA recommends the organization manages the incident using the Incident Command System organizational structure (PDF), and NIMS-approved Incident Action Planning and Common Communication Plan.

4. FEMA also recommends organizations also use an integrated Multi-Agency Coordination System (see the section about “WebEOC” below) to support a connectivity capability between local Incident Command Posts, 9-1-1 PSAPs, and local, state, and federal Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs).

5. In addition, FEMA recommends each organization has its own public information system. During an emergency incident, it may be necessary to alert the public to the risk of danger; so establishing communication channels with the media and other private sector partners in advance is advised.

Section 3 - Preparedness Planning

6. Organizations should revise existing corporate safety plans in order to incorporate NIMS components, principles and policies such as planning, training, response, exercises, equipment, evaluation and corrective actions. The revised corporate safety plan should be shared throughout the organization.

7. If your organization has its own firefighters, security team, or medical team, FEMA recommends exchanging memorandums of understanding with government agencies and other private-sector organizations to promote mutual aid - i.e. we'll help you when you're in trouble. In return, you help us.

Section 4 - Preparedness Training

8. NIMS consists of a core set of doctrines, concepts, principles, terminology, and organizational processes to enable effective, efficient, and collaborative incident management. To help organizations comply with these protocols, FEMA offers a range of training courses for personnel at all levels.

Section 5 - Preparedness Exercises

9. FEMA recommends trained personnel should participate in state, territory, regional, tribal and/or local NIMS-based preparedness exercises to develop experience in realistic multi-agency, multi-discipline and multi-jurisdictional exercises designed to improve integration and interoperability.

10. Organizations should use these experiences to develop their own NIMS-based exercise program specific to the organizational structure. This will give the organization the opportunity to test compliance with components 1 to 5 above and components 12 to 14 below.

11. From these internal preparedness exercises, organizations should be able to identify weaknesses in their emergency preparedness in order to apply corrective actions in subsequent preparedness exercises. There may also be correction observations passed down from local NIMS-based exercises.

Section 6 - Resource Management

12. With regards to the organization's own response assets, these should be recorded in the format described on FEMA's NIMS Mutual Aid Guidelines (PDF). The inventory should be shared with the local emergency management authority and any organizations with which there are mutual aid agreements.

13. The organization should coordinate training with mutual aid organizations to exercise their response asset inventory, and also the inventories of their mutual aid partners. This will also provide mutual aid partners with the opportunity to exercise their communication and information management.

Section 7 - Communication and Information Management

14. The final component of the National Incident Command System is to adopt a standardized and consistent terminology throughout the organization and use plain language communications to ensure accessibility and interoperability, and to avoid miscommunication during an emergency.

WebEOC Brings Together Multiple Agencies and Organizations

The WebEOC platform (Web Emergency Operations Center) was launched in 1998 as a user-friendly, web-based incident management system for businesses. The platform was adopted by FEMA in 2011 as its crisis management system to support emergency management at all levels from local to federal. As such it is the agency's preferred Multi-Agency Coordination System mentioned in Component 4 above.

As all state-funded agencies are required to follow NIMS protocols, they all choose to use the WebEOC platform. This means that every emergency service, emergency management agency, and private-sector organization connected to the platform is sharing information and resources, and working together in a collaborative manner in order to resolve emergency incidents as quickly and efficiently as possible.

From the perspective of a private-sector organization, when an emergency incident is elevated to the local emergency management authority (via the Incident Command System organizational structure), the authority creates an incident on the WebEOC platform. The platform notifies relevant state agencies and NIMS-approved organizations so a fast response can be organized.

As the emergency develops, the platform is used to share information, increase situational awareness, and coordinate responses. Resource requests can be sent from the field via any Internet-connected device; and, because the local emergency management authority has uploaded each organization's response asset inventory onto WebEOC, incident managers can identify the closest available resource.

The outcome is a fast and effective service that is the best possible solution for addressing any type of emergency incident at any level. Once an emergency incident is resolved, the WebEOC platform keeps the incident open during the clean-up process so that if additional resources are required by a state agency or private organization, they have a means through which to request them.

How Organizations Can Leverage WebEOC and Mass Notification Systems

Some mass notification systems have extensions for WebEOC that supports organizations using the platform in many different ways, while simplifying internal and external communication during and after an emergency.

>>Learn How You Can Add a Mass Notification Extension for WebEOC

With regard to the Fourteen Components of the Incident Command System (in the order they appear above);

  • Data is synchronized between select mass notification systems and existing HR databases, so organizations using the WebEOC extension can be assured their key personnel contact data is always up-to-date (Component 2).
  • Notifications can be sent in multiple formats including the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) to meet the NIMS interoperability requirements of the Common Communication Plan (Component 3).
  • An integrated mass notification system enables system administrators to create groups of contacts according to their role, location, or other attribute. It is therefore a suitable solution to use as a public information system (Component 5).
  • As select mass notification systems support two-way communication and have its own incident command dashboard, it is the ideal tool to use during internal NIMS-based exercises and for identifying weaknesses in corporate safety plans (Components 10 and 11).
  • Built-in consoles allow system administrators to create notification templates in advance. We recommend this practice to avoid miscommunication during a stressful situation, and to help organizations adopt a standardized and consistent terminology (Component 14).

Several private-sector organizations have already taken advantage of mass notification extensions for WebEOC to simplify internal and external communications - not only in an emergency, but also during exercises and day-to-day operations. 

Find out more about simplifying your internal and external incident communications.

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A Closer Look at Severe Weather Preparedness at a Large Hospital

April 30, 2019 Blog Author: Mary Kate McGrath

large hospital storm responseManaging safety during severe weather preparedness can be difficult for any healthcare facility, but coordinating emergency communications and response is particularly difficult for large hospitals with multiple campuses. 

In 2017, Hurricane Harvey hit South Texas, leaving residents in Houston and the surrounding area to deal with unprecedented flooding. The storm threatened infrastructure across industries and posed a major challenge to medical care centers. Texas Medical Center is the largest medical center in the world, and also also houses the largest children’s hospital and cancer treatment center, according to Time. During Hurricane Harvey, TMC managed to maintain operations and continuity of patient care.

Located in Houston, Texas Medical Center services over 10 million patients per year and is comprised of more than a dozen hospitals or medical centers, as per Time. The center briefed over 106,000 employees on an emergency plan ahead of the hurricane, but even with comprehensive safety planning, workers were still shocked by the sheer amount of water that inundated the city. The flooding made it virtually impossible to get in and out of many of the affiliated facilities, but the hospital was prepared for this eventuality and instituted a storm-time lock in policy that wouldn’t disrupt care for patients.

By taking a closer look at the practices implemented by Texas Medical Center, large hospitals can better understand what it takes to manage operations during a major storm. While preventing damage entirely may not be possible, there are key steps a large hospital can take to mitigate harm during severe weather situations.

Developing A Severe Weather Strategy For Hospitals

A key focus of hospitals during severe weather emergencies should be continuity of operations, and healthcare facilities have a responsibility to ensure patient care is not disrupted. During Hurricane Harvey, TMC instituted a “shelter-in-place” approach to hospital operations, as per Time. Staff was called in prior to the storm, and divided into shifts of working and rest. Nobody had to leave the premises, and beds were made available for employees during rest periods. The hospital chose this strategy based on lessons from prior storms - evacuation can be difficult when transporting patients with complex medical needs. If a vulnerable patient is evacuated, there is a risk of being stuck in an ambulance or mobile care unit without access to essential medical equipment or personnel.

The TMC campus also fared well during Hurricane Harvey due to infrastructure investments made after Hurricane Allison, which hit Texas in 2001. After Allison, safety managers decided to elevate the emergency generators and switching gear located at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, according to the TMC official website. The hospital also installed submarine doors, which are made of steel, to prevent flooding. During the storm, the hospital system did not lose power and was fully operational, with there was minimal water intrusion on buildings secured with the water resistant doors.

As with any emergency situation, communication was a priority. TMC needed an effective strategy to communicate internally, as over 16,000 staff members work in the hospital system. It was important for nurses, physicians, and surgeons to understand their role and responsibility during the "shelter-in-place" period. Elective surgeries and non-essential appointments were canceled to conserve resources, and administrators need to ensure that both patient and doctor were notified of schedule changes.

Doctors also took precautions with high-risk patients, such as those undergoing chemotherapy or dialysis and pregnant women due to give birth, so certain groups of were reached out to ahead of time. Patients receiving critical treatments were given the option to come into the hospital before the storm hit or find a more convenient facility to transfer care to, and were also ensured they would be able to come to the hospital after the storm passed. Women who were pregnant were checked into rooms at the Marriott Hotel next door to the hospital maternity ward. 

Leveraging Technology to Manage Severe Weather Communications

Texas Medical Center’s patient and employee safety management during Hurricane Harvey proves that managing patient and employee safety, as well as ensuring continuity of care, is possible even during an unprecedented storm. According to TMC, the three tenants of disaster response for the largest hospital in the world are reliable data for decision making, effective organization for emergency response, and powerful tools for communication.

A mass notification system is critical for emergency communications during a severe weather event, and without one, the administrators in Texas would not have been able to communicate internally or with the community at large. Safety managers approximated that over 320,000 messages were sent over the course of Hurricane Harvey, including both general safety updates and targeted messages for specific hospital units or security teams. For this reason, hospital safety administrators should ensure that their system has the ability to send unlimited messages to an unlimited number of recipients in a record amount of time.

SMS Opt-In can also be a valuable feature for managing patient care during a storm of hurricane magnitude. If a patient has been called to the hospital ahead of the storm, they can text a keyword to opt in to receiving relevant alerts while on campus. This way, they will have access to critical storm updates, as well as any changes occurring within the hospital as the storm develops. If a safety manager is looking to invest in mass notification ahead of the next disaster, it’s important to have a fast, reliable system with a range of functionality that can address all of a larger hospital’s communication needs.

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How to Spring Clean or Marie Kondo Your Emergency Plan

April 24, 2019 Blog Author: Samantha Hoppe

Spring Cleaning Your Emergency PlanWhen the weather starts to warm up, it’s a sign to refresh with spring cleaning. The Japanese organizing consultant and recent Netflix craze, Marie Kondo, has brought new life to spring cleaning practices. But why stop at home? Your emergency plan also needs annual upkeep to remain functional.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires organizations with more than 10 people have an emergency action plan. After a plan has been in place for over a year, it should be reviewed and updated as necessary. Putting together an emergency plan initially is hard work, and an annual evaluation helps keep that work valuable and relevant. The task of reviewing your plan is less daunting when you do it annually, and these tips make it as straightforward as cleaning out your microwave.

check_blue-1Review the Requirements

Emergency plan requirements are different for each industry. Below are minimum emergency plan requirements that are universal:

  • Communication Plan:
    • How will your team and staff quickly coordinate during an emergency?
    • Do you have a plan to inform all essential stakeholders?
    • Are you effectively reaching out to your community with the information they care most about?
    • Means of reporting incidents and emergencies to 9-1-1
  • Evacuation procedures and emergency escape routes
  • Procedures and protocols for your community to follow in case of emergency:
    • Accounting for all contacts after an emergency
    • Special needs and who is responsible for them
    • Name or job title of who can be contacted
  • Some industries, like healthcare, require evidence that the plan has been reviewed (and updated as necessary) on an annual basis. We recommend this for every industry.

Requirement guides by industry: •Healthcare Schools Corporate Government

Communications Check


If you want to inform and guide action in your community, you first need to make sure that your internal communication is up to par.

Make sure your internal communication system is simple enough for new users to easily learn. Check that employees feel confident using the system. Are there resources available for new employees learning, or long time team members that need a refresher?

For your alerts or notification systems, check that there Communications Spring Clean Emergency Planis nothing slowing down the process. If a system requires multiple steps to trigger a notification or alert, the system becomes less effective due to the multitude of issues happening during a live emergency. If you are unsure about delays, ask your system provider.

Not everyone can be available for a face-to-face meeting during an emergency. During your spring cleaning review, check that your internal communication system provides the ability to quickly summon key stakeholders to facilitate discussion about next steps.  It is best to check for this ability ahead of time instead of realizing in the middle of an incident.


Is your community engaged when you notify them? Reducing alert fatigue is an ongoing battle in a world where multiple services may require external communication with residents in the community. Are members from your community unsubscribing or opting out of communications? They may be experiencing alert fatigue from getting too many non-emergency notifications, which means they could be missing out on crucial information. One way to combat this issue directly is by leveraging SMS opt-ins for specific alerts. Geographic targeting allows emergency managers to cut down on this alert fatigue, and ensures that when residents are notified, they take it seriously.

Learn More: Preventing a Communication Breakdown Whitepaper

Contact ManagementContact Management

No matter your type of organization, it is important to know who your emergency plan is protecting. For business, this means the name or job title of every employee. Schools need to have all staff and students on file.

Collecting resident information is one thing, but continually maintaining it and making sure that it will be accurate and accessible in an emergency is another requirement entirely. Checking and aging out old information is beyond a spring cleaning refresh, but now is the time to recognize the problem before it escalates further.

It’s great to have a lot of contact information, but that data can do more harm than good if it isn’t stored and managed properly. Missing or false information about those you protect hinders your emergency plan’s effectiveness. If you’re not feeling confident in your current contact database, there are robust platforms that can help collect traditional information, but also nontraditional information, like special needs. Who in your community requires extra attention during an emergency?

Rave Alert’s integration with Rave Prepare™ means that information is continually verified and updated with six-month freshness checks. Additionally, information is entered by residents, freeing emergency management teams of an ongoing need for manual data entry or cleanup.

Review Drills

Fire Exit Emergency Plan DrillsIf you haven’t already, establish command. Decide who will be in charge of planning, executing, and managing drill issues. Having clear ownership will help everyone feel more prepared for an emergency.

It is recommended to conduct exercises and drills to practice all or some elements of your emergency plan, like emergency escape routes or off-site meetup points. Those who have an active role during a drill need to know the steps to take for staying safe during an incident no matter what.

Running each practice drill in full doesn’t have to be a part of your spring cleaning, but it is a good opportunity to establish when drills will be run or preform a tabletop drill. When you do decide to run a drill, it’s important to alert local authorities, such as police and fire departments. They’ll know there isn’t an actual emergency they need to respond to, and they may be able to provide you with resources or guidance for executing a comprehensive safety drill.

Questions to ask when reviewing your drill:

  • Special Needs: Are there any needs or activities of your community that are currently unaccounted for that could affect a drill? Large events, medical requirements, etc.
  • Time: Is enough time accounted for your community to execute the drill? Any parts that seem rush or stalled? Opportunities to shorten response time?
  • Goals: What will indicate if the drill was a success? Establish a goal, like a quick and calm evacuation, and emphasize the importance of it to your community.

For each exercise or drill, you should assess if there are areas that need to be improved. Errors illustrate where your team needs more practice, or highlights where there may be misinformation or miscommunication among your staff. Correcting these problems would be tricky to do during an actual emergency. Your future self will thank you for identifying these weak points.

More Information: Guide and Template for Safety Drills

Floor Plan Updating

Have any physical layout changes occurred at all since you last updated your emergency plan?

Often a 9-1-1 caller is not very familiar with your facility's layout, so your emergency plan should include floor plan information if it doesn’t already.

Facility Plans Spring CleaningEmergencies occurring on school campuses, healthcare, and other properties present first responders with unique challenges, which can impact their ability to provide assistance. Your facilities may be difficult to access. Make a note of any locks, gates, or codes. They can be confusing to navigate once accessed.

Review your floor plans for vulnerable areas that are new or may have been overlooked when the plan was first created. Provide any information about your facilities that you want 9-1-1 and first responders to know, ahead of any emergency.

Spring Cleaning with Preparedness in Mind

As you review your community’s emergency response plan and the best solutions to fit your needs, keep these following factors in mind. They will play a major role in the success or failure of your next emergency response.

It’s great to tackle your messy closets and corners, but spring cleaning your emergency plan benefits your whole community. You don’t need to start from scratch, just make sure your plan is clean and up to date. Preparing for upcoming emergencies requires a look backward at past incidents, and now the time to determine what worked and what didn’t. Don’t wait until your emergency plan has an issue to review it. Annually checking for any dust or cracks in your plan will help the rest of your year run smoothly.

If you’d like any assistance reviewing your current emergency plan, please reach out and we’d be happy to help!

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Could AI Integrations in Healthcare Help Reduce Nurse Staffing Issues?

April 23, 2019 Blog Author: Mary Kate McGrath

nurse staffing issuesAcross the United States, nurse staffing shortages are putting a strain on hospital workers and jeopardizing patient safety. In April, 10,000 nurses threatened to walk off the job at New York’s three largest hospital systems to push for rules setting minimum staff ratios, according to the New York Times. The union representing the nurses was able to reach a deal with hospital administrators that led to the hiring of 1,450 new nurses and establish minimum ratios, but the potential strike symbolized rising tensions in the medical field.

Nurse staffing shortages must be addressed to prevent worker burnout, which compromises both employee and patient safety. There is a proven correlation between staffing and patient outcomes across quality, safety, and experience, according to the National Institutes of Health. However, the ideal nurse-to-patient ratio is unclear, given that nurses in each hospital will come from a different background as far as education, experience and training. It’s equally difficult to craft a one-size-fits all approach when each hospital or healthcare facility meets unique patient needs. For this reason, addressing nurse staffing issues requires an individualized approach. 

There are many ways that hospitals and nurses can collaborate to fix staffing concerns.  Leveraging technology can play a big role in crafting a comprehensive safety plan that both parties agree upon. Among the many technological developments in healthcare, artificial intelligence is likely to play an increasingly large role in hospital safety operations.

For the last decade, staffing shortages have impacted hospital and healthcare facility business operations, especially during emergency events. A creative approach is overdue, and artificial intelligence might have a have a part in ensuring the continuity of patient care and security.

What Are AI Integrations In Healthcare?

AI integrations are being developed in the healthcare field largely to find fast and accurate diagnoses of preventable conditions; however, it's not the only benefit of the technology. There are many more ways in which deep learning is being integrated throughout the industry, with benefits potentially being realized in surgical procedures, nursing, dosage error reduction, and the accelerated development of new treatments. Furthermore, rather than computerize the healthcare industry, AI in healthcare should give healthcare providers more time to interact with patients.

Beyond care, AI in healthcare is anticipated to reduce insurance fraud, provide administrative workflow assistance, improve supply chain management, and enhance the efficiency of finance, IT, and HR. It’s not difficult to see why healthcare organizations are keen to press ahead with AI-powered services. It has been forecasted that within ten years, AI has the potential to improve healthcare outcomes by 30 to 40 percent while simultaneously cutting treatment and operational costs in half.

Machine learning is a subset of artificial intelligence based mathematical algorithms, automating the building of analytical models that use algorithms to learn from data, as per HealthcareIT Outcomes. The machine learns from its own mistakes, and ultimately produces reliable, repeatable decisions. This technology is being successfully implemented in healthcare to analyze incoming patient vitals and referencing it against patient data to predict negative health events, such as hospital re-admissions or emergency room visits.

One of the largest obstacles to incorporating AI into healthcare will be skepticism on behalf of the patients and workers. However, applications for predictive analytics and other similar technology do not necessarily have to involve hands-on patient care, and instead can shape management strategy. This way, with nurse and physician staffing shortages throughout the industry, safety managers can ensure resources available are utilized in the best way possible to prevent burn-out and maintain quality of care.

>>Download the Infographic - Repairing the Gaps in the Traveling Healthcare  Worker’s Safety Net

How Can AI Integrations Improve Nurse Staffing Shortages?

AI Integrations can help address nurse staffing concerns in several key ways. AI has the potential to help nurses with documentation, cutting down on the amount of time completing bureaucratic tasks and allowing nurses to focus on patients. This will prove especially useful when it comes to compiling patient data for health files. Smart algorithms and AI could reduce the need for information to be entered manually and could link content, so that further workflows and tasks could be automatically initiated at the right time.

The AI software can also shape a nurse workflow ecosystem, reducing the need for content to be entered manually and tasks can be initiated automatically, according to HealthcareIT. The software will recognize patterns automatically, evaluate the nurse’s planned goals, and make necessary adaptations. This will cut down on time wasted for employees, and make sure that patients are receiving the most appropriate treatments.

There is also evidence that artificial intelligence reduces hospital admissions. Research suggests that machine learning can help hospitals and healthcare facilities improve intake predictions and prevent overdiagnosis. Implementing these systems could help care workers prevent more than 10% of hospital readmissions.

Not only would this be a positive for the patients, who could spend less unnecessary time in hospitals, it can also potentially help nurses prioritize their time based on the severity of the patient’s illness or injury. Reliable data would ultimately reduce staffing burdens, as nurses would have a better understanding of how to utilize their time while on call without jeopardizing anyone’s safety. 

Leveraging Technology To Address Staffing Concerns

Artificial Intelligence is not the only technology that can  reduce staffing burden by streamlining operations. Healthcare personnel can leverage technology to better communicate internally, employee absences can be more easily managed and on-call nurses can be better prepared for the shift. A mass notification system is an essential tool for healthcare facilities that allows nurses and other staff to communicate through SMS text, email, and voice calls.

A polling module feature within a mass notification system can also help address nurse staffing issues.  If a nurse manager is spending valuable time scrambling to fill a last-minute callout or resolve ongoing understaffing, it can potentially disrupt daily operations and take away from patient care. The automated poll empowers nursing supervisors and other management personnel to solicit information from a select group of nurses and other staff.  

Healthcare personnel can use the polling module to fill a staffing shortage quickly by sending out a quota poll to nursing personnel that automatically concludes after a certain amount of required responses are reached. An automated message follows informing respondents what steps to take next, as well as that the poll closed. The automated poll collects basic text-based responses, which can be organized into reports that allow healthcare organizations to make informed staffing decisions.

Addressing Staffing Needs With Polling Guide

How Petrochemical Plants Can Communicate With Employees and Communities When Disaster Strikes

April 23, 2019 Blog Author: Mary Kate McGrath

petrochemical plantIn August of 2017, Hurricane Harvey dropped more than 60 inches of rain on the Houston Ship Channel in Texas. The flat coastal plain is home to many of the barges, oil tankers, pipelines, storage tanks, and refineries that make up the petrochemical industry in the state. The devastating storm and subsequent flooding resulted in 8 million pounds of extra air pollution, according to NPR. Pollution was also released into waterways, and the chemicals stored at a company north of Houston caught fire. The crisis forced petrochemical plants to reassess disaster response, especially how potential public health risks are communicated with the surrounding community.

Tropical storms in the Gulf Coast are increasing in frequency and severity, and taking stock of the damage from Hurricane Harvey has potential value for the petrochemical industry. The new normal under a weather system impacted by climate change means that future storms could bring even greater damage, and facilities must be prepared for worst-case scenarios. Plant locations are often selected based on access to waterways, but as storms grow in severity and flood plains are redrawn, it’s increasingly important that these facilities are not built in susceptible areas. The chemical industry can minimize damage and health risks by avoiding building vulnerable structures in areas prone to flooding or with high-population density.

However, structures across the Gulf region, and in other areas of the country, will become increasingly susceptible to natural disaster, even while complying to safety standards. Amid record-breaking storms, it’s difficult to predict the force and speed with which a hurricane can descend on a region of the United States. For this reason, petrochemical companies should prepare for the  worst-case scenario, and to communicate any critical damage to the community.

Related Case Study: How Fluor Petroleum is Using WebEOC and Mass Notification  for Employee Accountability

Building A Comprehensive Disaster Response Plan

Hurricane Harvey made landfall faster than previous storms, which presented unique safety challenges. In fact, the unpredictable nature of hurricanes and tropical storms should be reason enough for petroleum plant managers to reassess safety plans after each severe weather emergency. Each hurricane can bring different conditions - Hurricane Harvey was characterized by major flooding and levee damage, for example, but during storms, high-wind speeds and power outages can be a top concern. Annual reassessment should be part of any comprehensive disaster response plan, and it’s been shown to help petroleum manufacturers minimize damage.

The chemical company Covestro in Baytown, Texas, was able to prevent additional pollution as a result of Harvey largely because the of the safety lessons learned after Hurricane Ike in 2008, according to NPR. After Ike, Covestro moved critical servers and computers away from the bayou and into a building on higher ground. This way, even though the plant was flooded during Hurricane Harvey, the team was able to monitor and communicate what was going on. Covestro resumed operations less than two weeks after the storm.

Rod Herrick, who manages safety operations for Covestro, offered several other suggestions for storm preparedness. Several of these recommendations involve physical planning. Moving generators to higher ground is essential amid record floods, and companies can prevent water contamination by installing containers under tanks to manage leaks. There are also geodesic domes, which prevent the weight of rainwater from causing leaks in the top of tanks companies use to store hazardous materials. Herrick also recommended small actions employers can take to prevent disaster during a hurricane, such as stocking up on cleaning supplies and such as mops or brooms to sanitary products for employees. These are small things that ultimately add up to

Communication is key for managing an emergency such as a storm - both for internal operations and external communications. According to Bloomberg Environment, the KMCO petrochemical plant began preparations a week before Hurricane Harvey made landfall. As the storm approached, the company established a checkpoint system, secured the plant, and made sure the backup generator was equipped to support the plant for several days. Only essential employees were told to report to work, with a handful of operators, mechanics, and electricians remained on call during the height of the storm.

Effective communications can help a petrochemical plant prevent major leaks or other complications, however, these facilities should also prepare emergency communications for the worst-case scenario. During Hurricane Harvey, Arkema underestimated the damage from flooding, resulting in a series of explosions around the plant, as per Bloomberg environment. Company officials realized that the backup generator had failed, and that evacuating residents within a 1.5 mile radius would be necessary.

Communicating the disaster is essential during a high-risk emergency of this sort, and petrochemical companies must keep both employees and the surrounding community safe. 

Leveraging Technology to Improve Community Safety

A mass notification system can be an essential tool for managing a petrochemical-related disaster during a storm. If residents are already receiving weather-related alerts, it’s important the local safety managers are providing updates as the storm develop. In a situation such as the Arkema fires, residents must be given an evacuation notice as quickly as possible. If the plant understands there is risk of fire, explosion, or other systematic malfunctions, evacuations should be considered in advance. If a plant has a comprehensive safety plan and risk is low, the safety managers can also use mass notification to assure the community that emergency procedures are in place during the storm.  

The notification system can also be used to communicate internally. If only key personnel are going to be required during the storm, the petrochemical plant can communicate staffing changes to employees. This way, nobody nonessential will be on site or put in a situation where safety can be jeopardized.

Rave Alert Employee Communications

Lessons Learned from The New Zealand Shootings

April 17, 2019 Blog Author: Samantha Hoppe

New Zealand ShootingsThe Christchurch mosque shootings on March 15 shook New Zealand and prompted a powerful inquiry into the worst mass murder in the country’s history. The shootings were two consecutive terrorist attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand during Friday prayer. The first attack was live streamed on Facebook. The Australian gunman, a white supremacist, has been charged with 50 murders and 39 attempted murders.Reminders of loss are never far away from these families, whether it be an empty seat at the dinner table or Ramadan. The losses have sparked conversations around the globe about law enforcement, safety technology and more.

Christchurch First Responders

According to the New York Times, officers apprehended the suspect only 36 minutes after receiving the first emergency call. The police said they received the first call for help at 1:41 p.m., when mosques were packed for Friday prayer. 

Forty-two people were killed during the six minute attack at the Al Noor Mosque. At 1:48 p.m., the suspect gets back in his car and drives towards his second target. Three minutes later, a siren can be heard on the video footage as he is driving to the second mosque. The gunman was gone by the time police arrived.

The police said a special armed tactical unit arrived at Al Noor four minutes after the first officers, or ten minutes after the initial emergency call. Still, it was not fast enough. The officers arrived to a horrific scene, with the dead and wounded outnumbering the city’s usual on-duty police force.

Related Blog: How to Harden Soft Target Locations

The gunman then attacked the Linwood Mosque, almost four miles east of Al Noor. The second mosque caused confusion for call centers. “Calls coming in from one, and then calls saying a second mosque, and people saying, ‘What? Do you mean this mosque or that one?’” said Chris Cahill, a detective inspector who is president of a local labor union for police officers.

Lateef Alabi, the imam leading prayers at Linwood, heard a voice outside at about 1:55 pm. He saw the gunman and two bodies on the ground out the window, and warned the congregation of about 80 people to get down. Abdul Aziz, who had been praying with his four sons at the time, bravely flung a handheld credit card machine at the attacker. Officers arrived at the mosque soon afterward, he and other survivors said. Witnesses credit Aziz's bravery for slowing down the shooter until officers could intervene. 

Authorities barricaded streets in an attempt to place the area on lockdown and search for the gunman. Police urged Christchurch residents to stay indoors and monitor the police website and social media. Local schools were placed on lockdown when police ordered students to not leave their classrooms between 2:20 pm and 6 pm that day. Desperate parents were unable to reach their children following the attacks. Some teachers were confronted by irate parents demanding their children be allowed to leave. Students were kept safe, but the incident brought to light issues with the school's current safety protocols. School lockdown procedures will be reviewed urgently in New Zealand to improve communication.  "One of the things that we've been told that when we go into lockdown what we must do ... is to shut the school off from the wider community, but the communication between the two is the critical factor." says Burnside High School principal Phil Holstein according to Radio New Zealand

“It absolutely was his intention to continue with his attack,” said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern after the arrest of the shooter, a former personal trainer from Australia who distributed a manifesto of white extremist hatred minutes before the rampage. 

"We strongly believe we stopped him on the way to further attack," said police commissioner Mike Bush. He told reporters that the gunman was en route to terrorize more people before officers intervened. The New Zealand Herald reports that police officers had just attended a training session on how to deal with armed offenders when they dragged the gunman from his car following the shootings.

NZ PM Minister Jacinda ArdernPrime Minister Jacinda Ardern paid tribute to the emergency workers who were first on the scene of the Christchurch attack. "I have no doubt that you saved lives... thank you for doing what you do... on our darkest, darkest hours and our darkest days," she told them as she visited the Justice and Emergency Services precinct. The prime minister and the first responders later had a private meeting, during which the emergency workers were expected to brief her on their experiences. 

Social Media Involvement

The shooter strapped a camera to his forehead to stream a live video on Facebook as he gunned down dozens of people who had gathered to pray. He teased his act on Twitter, announced it on the online message board 8chan and appeared to have posted a 74-page manifesto online. The video was mirrored around the world before the major tech companies could even react. The shooter left an internet breadcrumb trail leading up to the mass murder designed to maximize attention.

>>Read More: Anonymous Tips Can Help Save Lives

On March 27, representatives from four social media companies gathered with members and staff of the House Homeland Security Committee for a briefing. The focus: how the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism—an industry group composed of Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Microsoft—had responded to the New Zealand shooting.

The shooter live-streamed the massacres for an hour, until New Zealand law enforcement asked the company to take it down. Facebook users had already re-uploaded the video of the murders on to the platform hundreds of thousands of times. The company said it removed about 1.5 million videos of the mass shooting in the first day after the shooting. And those are just the clips they were able to catch.

Two years ago, Facebook rolled out a counter-terror algorithm meant to block gruesome or inappropriate content from being posted on the site. The algorithm failed to block the live stream from the mosque on March 15. Congress met with Brian Fishman, Facebook’s policy director for counterterrorism, to discuss. The briefing was closed door, but according to The Daily Beast, Fishman said there was “not enough gore” in the video for the algorithm to catch it.

There is pushback against Fisherman’s defense. Facebook’s technology and filters have rapidly pulled down videos featuring copyrighted music and advertisements that criticize the platform. Although social media companies have made significant progress using machine learning to identify inappropriate or disturbing content, there is a long way to go.

Facebook has put up a blog to address the criticisms and explain how this happened:

"[Artificial Intelligent] systems are based on ‘training data’, which means you need many thousands of examples of content in order to train a system that can detect certain types of text, imagery or video.” The blog explains that this has worked for nudity, propaganda and graphic violence because there are large number of examples to better train the systems. “However, this particular video did not trigger our automatic detection systems. To achieve that we will need to provide our systems with large volumes of data of this specific kind of content, something which is difficult as these events are thankfully rare.”

Bad communities also worked together to continually re-upload edited versions of the video in ways designed to defeat Facebook’s detection. Six people appeared in a New Zealand court on April 15 on charges that they illegally redistributed the gory video.

Another challenge is discerning content that is visually similar but innocuous, like video game footage - “for example if thousands of videos from live-streamed video games are flagged by our systems, our reviewers could miss the important real-world videos where we could alert first responders to get help on the ground.”

Facebook hopes that their content moderators and flagging systems could someday help first responders in real-time. In November 2018, Facebook announced that more than 100 local governments and first responders with Facebook Pages are testing "local alerts." There has not been an update on how the test is going yet. As much as social media can do in 2019, it is far from being a safety solution.

Protecting Houses of Worship Whitepaper

Managing Hospital Safety During Nursing Strikes

April 16, 2019 Blog Author: Mary Kate McGrath

nursing strikes_shutterstock editorial use onlyIn March of 2019, unionized nurses in New York City delivered a formal strike notice to the three largest hospital networks. The notice warned that if the hospital management and the New York State Nurses Union didn’t reach an agreement, 10,000 nurses would not show up to work and picket outside of Montefiore, Mount Sinai, and New-York Presbyterian hospitals, as per Vice. 

The New York State Nurses Association ultimately managed to negotiate with the New York Hospital Alliance on the issue of staffing, and the strike was withdrawn. Insufficient staffing ratios are causing tension in the nursing field across the United States, and hospital safety managers should prevent and prepare for picketing or strikes.

Nurse-to-patient ratios have dominated conversations about healthcare safety. Professionals working in healthcare are statistically more likely to face instances of workplace violence than other industries. In 2016, researchers found that nearly 75% of all workplace assaults occur in healthcare. Many hospitals and healthcare facilities are underfunded and face staffing shortages, which creates even more risk in the workplace. California was the first state with laws that require a required minimum nurse to patient ratio per hospital unit, and it remains the only one to create a mandate on the legal level. Massachusetts is the only other state with a similar law, requiring a 1:1 or 1:2 nurse to patient ratio in the ICU.

In 2018, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that education and healthcare workers were most likely to go on strike. In January, Los Angeles public teachers organized a weeklong strike to protest current working conditions and advocate for for capsizes in classrooms, full-time nurses and librarians in schools. The strike impacted classrooms across the state for half a million students in the state, but teachers were able to negotiate with the state for their conditions. Administrators could have avoided the disruption by coming to the table sooner, and the strike could be just the first from unions in similar workplaces. 

Staffing is an issue that is becoming increasingly contentious in hospitals and healthcare facilities across the United States. In 2018, nurses in hospitals run HCA, one of the countries largest healthcare providers, picketed and threatened to strike in five states, according to the New York Times. Hundreds of nurses staged a walk-out in Vermont to call attention to staffing issues earlier in the year as well. These strikes can disrupt hospital or facility operations, if not halt them entirely. 

How To Prioritize Safety During A Nursing Strike

Putting together a long-term, a sustainable safety plan is the goal of any hospital or healthcare facility. Patient-to-nurse ratios should be a consideration as part of comprehensive healthcare security, and hospital managers should work with employees to find ways to reduce the burden on doctors and nurses. If these issues are left unaddressed, it creates an increasing strain on nursing teams and compromises patient safety. The notice and picketing in New York suggests that nursing unions will continue to use strikes to advocate for patient-to-nurse limits if concerns are unheard, and hospital safety managers can prevent that eventuality by creating a dialogue with nurses.

Hospitals have a responsibility to supply patients with uninterrupted healthcare, even should a strike occur. Transparency is key during a nursing strike, so if changes in treatment are inevitable, this must be communicated to patients. Make sure that parents are informed of changes in staffing, whether this is care from nurses or doctors. Patients will appreciate the autonomy to make informed decisions amid staffing disruptions. If a patient is better served at a different healthcare facility during the strike, hospitals should coordinate a transfer of care. Preparing EMS or ambulance teams ahead of the strike will help avoid further inconvenience for patients and workers. 

The number one thing hospitals can do to avoid compromising patient safety is address nursing concerns before a labor strike occurs. If a nursing union is calling for the health care system to hire more nurses amid staffing shortages, it is a signal to administration that patient safety might be jeopardized. Walk-outs and strikes are often a last resort for nurses - they don’t want to disrupt patient care or hospital operations as much as hospital administrations don't. These situations occur when communication does not occur. A comprehensive safety plan benefits all hospital workers, and if hospital administration collaborates with nurses on procedural matters, there will be fewer issues in the long term.

Leveraging Technology To Reduce Nursing Burden

Technology can be a powerful tool for maintaining hospital operations during a nurse strike, and a mass notification system can help tackle communication challenges. Notifying doctors, surgeons, and staff that personnel will be missing during the period of the strike is essential for both worker and patient safety. The ecosystem of every hospital department depends on nurse coverage, and it’s critical that any changes in staffing be communicated.

Some mass notification systems also have an automated polling module that allows nursing supervisors and other management personnel to solicit information from a select group of nurses and other staff through SMS text, email and voice calls and send automated follow-up notifications based on their responses. Healthcare personnel can use the polling module to fill a staffing shortage quickly by sending out a quota poll to nursing personnel that automatically concludes after a certain amount of required responses are reached. 


A mass notification system can also keep the community informed if a strike or picket will disrupt hospital hours. The planned picketing around the three main hospitals in New York City would have had the potential to disrupt commutes and other foot traffic, which can create greater safety risks. Changes in hospital traffic should be communicated to residents, and keeping all informed will prevent further chaos or disorganization in the neighborhood. 

The mass notification system can also help reduce burden of nurse to patient ratios in the long term. This tool can enable RN and department managers to make sure nurses are serving patients within their area of expertise and speed up communication between nursing teams. The facility can reduce time spent on bureaucracy and communication, and ensure that every patient is receiving the best possible care without putting a major strain on staff. This can help the hospital take full advantage of personnel and resources, which helps reduce the burden on nurses who are already overworked. 

Addressing Staffing Needs With Polling Guide

The Latest on Workplace Violence Statistics

April 9, 2019 Blog Author: Andrea Lebron

Workplace Violence StatisticsUpdated 4/9/2019—The latest on workplace violence statistics 2018-2019 is that many businesses continue to under-report non-fatal injuries and illnesses. This under-reporting creates a misleading picture of violence in the workplace and - due to not acknowledging the issue - results in businesses failing to adequately protect employees.

In this blog, we'll cover:

In the 2015 edition of “Injury Facts”, the National Safety Council raised concerns that non-fatal injuries and illnesses were being under-reported. The organization cited several Californian investigations that found discrepancies of up to 48% between the number of injuries reported and the number of worker's compensation claims, and a study in Washington State that found 90% of organizations surveyed were not complying with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reporting regulations.

OSHA has also raised concerns with regard to the latest workplace violence statistics. On its page dedicated to violence at work, the organization claims “Nearly 2 million American workers report having been victims of workplace violence each year,” but fears “many more cases go unreported”. OSHA's fears may well be justified. The number of reported non-fatal injuries and illnesses has failed to increase in subsequent years, implying that the practice of under-reporting continues to this day.

Why is Violence at Work Under-reported?

When considering the statistics on workplace violence, it's important to note that they, if anything, understates the problem because of under-reporting. There are various reasons why violence at work is under-reported. The Washington State study mentioned above concluded that businesses fail to report non-fatal injuries and illnesses due to a lack of awareness, a lack of communication and a lack of incentive. Due to the time it takes to complete Survey of Occupational Injury and Illness (SOII) reports, many businesses use whatever data is available at the time rather than implement an accurate data collection and reporting process.

However, around the same time as the National Safety Council was raising its concerns about under-reporting, Carol Fredrickson - a specialist in workplace conflict resolution - published her “7 Reasons Employees Don't Report Workplace Violence”. The list relates exclusively to employee-on-employee violence, but concludes with a point exceptionally pertinent to the latest workplace violence statistics - many employees and employers do not understand how violence at work is defined.

Below are the latest workplace violence statistics broken down by incident demographics, reasons, financial burdens, and a closer look at active shooter statistics in the workplace.

>>Free Workplace Violence Ebook - Why Improving Emergency Communications Is  Key to Employee Safety

How Violence at Work is Defined

According to the Workplace Violence Research Institute, workplace violence has two definitions. The first, the Institute claims, is one perpetrated by the media in which a disgruntled customer or employee takes a firearm to a place of work and shoots indiscriminately. Although an exaggerated example, this definition may explain why many employees and employers feel violence at work only occurs when an injury is sustained due to a physical attack.

The second definition is one more closely aligned to that provided by OSHA. The Administration's website states: “Workplace violence is any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site. It ranges from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and even homicide.” According to the latest workplace violence statistics relating to fatal injuries, workplace homicides increased by 83 cases to 500 in 2016.

Healthcare SurveyThe Most Dangerous Profession to Work in is Healthcare

In 2016, the New England Journal of Medicine published a comprehensive review of “Workplace Violence against Health Care Workers in the United States”.  The review included data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showing healthcare workers are nearly four times as likely to require time away from work as a result of violence as they are because of other types of injury (the most common being back injuries, needle stick injuries, exposure to blood and body fluid, and smoke inhalation).

The review also reported that, although employees in the healthcare and social assistance sectors account for 12.2% of the working population (and despite there being the potential for under-reporting in other industries), nearly 75% of workplace assaults occurred in a healthcare setting.

Among other recent workplace violence incidents:

  • 80% of Emergency Medical Services personnel have been attacked by patients.
  • Homicide is the second leading cause of workplace death for home healthcare workers.
  • 78% of Emergency Department physicians and 100% of Emergency Department nurses have experienced violence from patients within the last year.
  • The annual incidence of physical assault in a psychiatric setting is 70%.
  • Among nursing homes with dementia units, 59% of nursing aides reported being assaulted by patients weekly and 16% daily.
  • 46% of nurses reported some form of workplace violence during their five most recent shifts.
  • Between 2000 and 2011, there were 154 shootings with injury either inside or on the grounds of American hospitals.

Among workplace shootings 2018-2019, it is worth noting that only four of the hospital shootings were included in the FBI's “Active Shooter Study” published in 2018. This is because the majority took place on hospital grounds, while those that took place inside an Emergency Department or on a ward were the result of the shooter removing a firearm from a security guard or law enforcement officer. This is another example of how the latest workplace violence statistics can create a misleading picture of violence in the workplace.

Free Infographic Download: Sexual Harassment in the Workplace StatisticsMeasures to Prevent Workplace Violence

There are various measures that can be implemented to prevent workplace violence cases. The first is for employers to understand the OSHA definition of violence at work and implement policies that protect employees from the “threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site”. Should these events occur, the policies must be enforced, sanctions applied, and the incidents included on the SOII reports.

In circumstances where employees are at risk from physical assault, employers should implement mechanisms that can quickly alert security personnel and emergency services to an act of violence. According to our “Trends in Corporate Security Report” approximately 25% of businesses are unprepared for an active shooter incident, meaning the incident is frequently over before police respond and arrive at the scene.

Are Employers Failing to Prioritize Workplace Safety?

In our 2018-2019 Workplace Safety and Preparedness Report, 30% of respondents said they were unaware or unsure of their employers' Emergency Preparedness Plans for the most common types of workplace emergencies. Higher percentages reported that although Emergency Preparedness Plans existed for severe weather events, medical emergencies, and system outages/cyberattacks, the plans were rarely or never tested.

This doesn't necessarily imply employers are failing to prioritize workplace safety. It's more likely their efforts are being focused in the wrong areas due to regulations requiring events such as the periodic testing of fire alarms and fire drill procedures. However, it was particularly noted in the report that more than a third of female respondents were unaware of workplace violence emergency plans, despite workplace violence being the second leading cause of death for women in the workplace.

Workplace Violence Statistics Demographics

Every year, nearly 2 million U.S. workers will become victims of workplace violence

The healthcare industry makes up 9% of the U.S. workforce, yet healthcare professionals experience more workplace violence injuries than all other industries combined

Out of all 7 possible causes of death at the workplace, homicides make up 9%

The third leading cause of death for workers in the healthcare and professional services industries (education, law and media) is due to workplace violence

 More on education: 44% of teachers reported being physically attacked while at school within one year

Read More: Why Every School Should Have A Panic Button App System

For women, workplace violence is the second leading cause of death while on the job

In 2014, almost 16,000 workers experienced workplace violence and 69% were in the healthcare and social assistance industry

30,000 rape or sexual assaults occur to women at work each year

As of 2013, 19% or most workplace violence injuries occurred in California and Texas

Reason for Workplace Violence

Types of Workplace Violence_Graphic There have been 150 employee-on-employee killings since 2010

2 out of 3 workplace homicides are committed by someone not close to the victim

21 percent of workplace homicide perpetrators are co-workers

Robberies account for 85% of workplace violence deaths

Employees with potential to commit workplace violence tend to exhibit 8 behaviors such as acting out of character or exhibiting addictive habits

 The two most common traits when it comes to those who commit white-collar workplace violence are narcissism and psychopathy

Related Blog: What is Red Collar Crime?

workplace violence statistics

 Workplace Violence Financial Data

$3 or more is saved for each dollar invested in workplace safety

$121 billion annual losses are attributed to workplace assaults

Domestic violence issues that are brought to the workplace cost nearly $727 million in lost productivity

Workplace catastrophes such as violent incidents have caused publicly-traded companies to lose close to 8% in shareholder value

Lawsuits associated with workplace violence cost companies an average of $500,000 for out-of-court settlements

Workplace Shootings, Active Shooters

Out of all mass shootings since 1966, 27% occurred at workplaces

 In 2018, there have been at least 18 mass shootings involving four or more victims, except for the suspectMassShootingsIn2018_v04_DP_hpEmbed_8x5_992

70% of all active shooter incidents are within a commerce/business or educational setting

96% of active shooters are lone males

40% of active shooter assailants commit suicide

Approximately 25% of companies are unprepared for active shooter incidents

In 2014 and 2015, police exchanged gun-fire with the assailant in 14 active shooter incidents

In nearly half of active shooter incidents, police are unable to respond under 10 minutes

-  Active shooters are nearly twice as likely to die if the shooting occurs in a factory or warehouse, compared to commercial settings

 The FBI has found 10 key behaviors in active shooter assailants, including a mental health history and the decision to choose to attack familiar places

 Copycat active shooter events often happen in clusters, with the risk of an active shooter in the workplace at its highest in the two weeks following a similar incident

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What are CMS Hospital Star Ratings and How Are They Calculated?

April 9, 2019 Blog Author: Andrea Lebron

CMS Hospital Star ratingsCMS Hospital Star Ratings are a quick-reference guide to the performance metrics of more than 4,500 hospitals nationwide. Because of the way in which they are calculated, users of the Hospital Compare web portal are advised to do their own due diligence before relying on the CMS ratings to make a treatment decision, which could have implications for hospital leaders.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is a federal agency within the Department for Health and Human Services. One of the agency's goals is to improve the healthcare system in the United States by enhancing the quality of care provided to patients. To help achieve this goal, the agency created the Hospital Compare web portal in 2002 to provide information to healthcare consumers about how qualifying Medicare and Medicaid hospitals compare against each other.

What started out as a basic comparison site covering only inpatient care has evolved over the years. Consumer Assessments and Outpatient Quality Reporting were added in 2003 and 2008 respectively; and subsequent additions to the Hospital Compare web portal include a Readmissions Reduction Program and a Hospital-Acquired Conditions Reduction Program. Although star ratings were already in existence for specific medical disciplines, CMS Hospital Star Ratings were introduced in 2016.

How CMS' Hospital Star Ratings Work

Hospitals are required by law to report inpatient performance metrics to CMS, and are “incentivized” (*) to report outpatient performance metrics each year. Data are divided into seven categories, and the hospitals' performances in each category are weighted to give an overall Star Rating. In addition, data from each category are compared to the national average of each category, and a score of “above”, “same as”, or below” the national average is awarded to each hospital. The seven categories are:

• Mortality Rate (Weighted average of overall rating - 22%)
• Safety of Care i.e. hospital acquired conditions (22%)
• Unplanned Readmissions (22%)
• Patient Experience Surveys (22%)
• Effectiveness of Care (4%)
• Timeliness of Care (4%)
• Efficient Use of Medical Imaging (4%)

So as not to exclude small or specialized hospitals - or those unable to provide a full data set due to their unique characteristics - hospitals only have to report data in at least three of the seven categories including at least one of the “outcome” categories (Mortality Rate, Safety of Care, or Unplanned Readmissions) in order to qualify for a Hospital Star Rating. Each category has between five and eleven fields, and at least three fields must be completed in each.

When hospitals are unable to complete the required number of fields in all seven categories, the weighting is redistributed. For example, a specialist pediatric hospital would be unable to report performance metrics for Mortality Rates and Unplanned Readmissions as the fields in these categories relate to non-pediatric events. Consequently the percentage weightings for Safety of Care and Patient Experience Surveys would increase to 39.285%, while the other weightings would increase to 7.1433%.

(*) Hospitals that fail to report outpatient data can have the following year´s Medicare payment reduced by 2%.

CMS' Hospital Star Ratings for 2019

The most recent Hospital Star Ratings were published in January 2019. Of the 4,573 hospitals that submitted performance metrics, only 293 achieved the full five-star CMS' Hospital Star Rating. Although this represents just 6.41% of all qualifying Medicare and Medicaid hospitals, it was a slight increase in number from the previous Hospital Star Ratings in December 2017 due to a chance in methodology. There were also increases in the number of hospitals achieving four stars and three stars.

Overall Star Rating # of Hospitals Percentage of Total
5 Stars  293  6.41%
4 Stars  1086  23.75%
3 Stars 1264 27.64%
2 Stars 800 17.49%
1 Star 282 6.17%
Unrated 848 18.54%

Criticisms of CMS' Hospital Star Ratings

The primary criticism of CMS' Hospital Star Ratings is that hospitals can manipulate their overall scores by selective reporting performance data where the opportunity exists. An analysis of the data reveals, of the hospitals that achieved a five-star rating, thirty reported data in the minimum three categories, and only one of these achieve an “above national average” in all three categories. Conversely, it is claimed hospitals that file comprehensive performance metrics appear to be penalized for their honesty.

That's not necessarily the case as a high rating could be achieved due to the nature of the hospital's services. If you take the example of the pediatric hospital mentioned above, nearly 80% of the hospital's rating would be calculated on factors such as surgical site infections (relatively rare in a pediatric setting) and patient experience surveys (relatively positive in a pediatric setting). It would also be hard to fault the hospital's Effectiveness of Care, Timeliness of Care, or Efficient Use of Medical Imaging.

Due to the criticisms of the Hospital Star Ratings system, CMS has announced it will revise the system for the next series of star ratings and is currently accepting comments about the best way to go about making changes. Comments suggested so far include revising the categories and removing the weighting element so the Hospital Star Rating is based on average scores, and placing hospitals with similar characteristics (such as pediatric hospitals) into peer groups to facilitate more like-for-like comparisons.

Why You Shouldn't Disregard CMS Requirements Altogether

An important requirement was added to CMS rules in November 16, 2017, requiring all hospitals and healthcare institutions to have effective emergency response mechanisms and processes in place. During emergencies, a hospital mass notification system is important to quickly communicate timely information to management and
employees, obtain the status of employees, and alert employees of emergency situations. 

A recent survey found that within the last two years, 27% of healthcare organizations had encountered workplace violence incidents. The survey also revealed that hospitals and other medical facilities are using certain modes of communication more than others, yet not all of these methods are reaching their diverse communities. Find out more about healthcare emergency preparedness trends by downloading the survey report.
2018 Healthcare Survey Report

The Prevalence of Domestic Violence in the Workplace and How to Address It

April 2, 2019 Blog Author: Andrea Lebron

domestic violence in the workplaceStatistics relating to domestic violence in the workplace are often out-of-date and generally unreliable. Nonetheless, the issue undoubtedly exists, and businesses have a legal obligation to address the impact of domestic violence on victims, as well as the financial motivation for doing so.

Most reports relating to domestic violence in the workplace rely on data produced more than ten years ago for the Bureau of Justice Statistics Workplace Violence Report 1993 - 2009 (PDF). In the report, one small section relates to the victim/offender relationship of reported crimes, and shows that women are twice as likely to suffer workplace violence perpetrated by an “intimate partner” as a man. However, if you read the small print beneath the data, both calculations are based on ten or fewer reported incidents; which - over a sixteen year period - would suggest the data is unreliable.

A more feasible estimate of the volume of domestic violence in the workplace appears in Hope Tiesman's study of workplace homicides among U.S. women and the role of intimate partner violence published by the U.S. Library of Medicine. Although drawing on an even older source of data, Ms. Tiesman estimates 13,000 acts of violence are committed each year by intimate partners against women at work; which, if the Bureau of Justice Statistics figures are to be believed, implies a further 6,500 acts of domestic violence in the workplace against men - bringing the annual total close to 20,000 cases.

Why These Statistics May Still Underestimate the Extent of the Issue

In previous blogs, we have periodically discussed the underreporting of non-fatal injuries and illnesses in the workplace and how discrepancies of up to 48% existed in California between the number of injuries reported and the number of worker's compensation claims. However, with regard to domestic violence, the situation is further complicated by perceptions of what domestic violence consists of, and the unwillingness of both employers and victims to report domestic violence in the workplace. Let's look at the first lines of three different definitions of domestic violence to start with:

From Merriam-Webster

  • The inflicting of physical injury by one family or household member on another.

From the U.S. Department of Justice

  • The term “domestic violence” includes felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence committed by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim.

From Legal Dictionary

  • An abusive, violent, coercive, forceful, or threatening act or word inflicted by one member of a family or household on another.

Note how Merriam-Webster defines domestic violence as “the inflicting of physical injury”, and the U.S. Department of Justice definition implies physical injury by including the terms “felony or misdemeanor crimes” and “violence”. Many acts of domestic violence are non-physical. Under the Legal Dictionary definition, domestic violence can include psychological, emotional, and financial acts, and even include threats of abuse. It´s no wonder domestic violence in the workplace goes underreported, because many people - in some cases the victims themselves - fail to recognize it.

An Unwillingness to Report Domestic Violence in the Workplace

An unwillingness to report domestic violence in the workplace exists at both employer and victim levels. From an HR perspective, while some employers don´t want to get involved because they perceive domestic violence as a “family matter”, others have concerns about digging into employees´ personal lives and the confidentiality issues that accompany disclosure. There is also the risk that responding in the wrong way to employees who report they are suffering from abuse may invite lawsuits - either from the victim or their abuser.

One interesting - and relatively reliable - source of data about domestic violence is the Violence against Women Report (PDF) that was published as part of the National Crime Victimization Survey conducted in 1992/3. Over 100,000 women were interviewed during the survey; and, of those who suffered domestic violence by an intimate partner, only 55% (injured) and 46% (non-injured) reported the incident to the police. When asked why they were willing to reveal the abuse to researchers, but not to law enforcement officers, the three most common reasons given were:

  • The private nature of the event.
  • The stigma associated with being a victim.
  • The belief that reporting the abuse would not stop it.

It is important to note the Violence against Women Report covered domestic violence in all circumstances, not just in the workplace. However, building on that data, the Society for Human Resource Management conducted its own survey in 2013 and found that 19 % of (surveyed) businesses had experienced a workplace domestic violence incident in the past year. The survey also found that 65% of businesses do not have policies to deal with workplace domestic violence, or the consequences of employees who bring household domestic violence to work with them.

The Legal Obligation and Financial Motivation to Address Workplace Domestic Violence

Employers have a legal obligation to prevent all definitions of workplace domestic violence under the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act that stipulates employees should be protected from the “threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site”. State employment laws may also further enforce this rule. Therefore, inasmuch as employers may invite lawsuits for responding the wrong way to reports of abuse, they may also invite lawsuits if they fail to address workplace domestic violence at all.

Possibly more of a motivating factor for addressing workplace domestic violence is the financial cost of not addressing it. Businesses pay a price for workplace domestic violence in lower productivity and higher absenteeism, plus they may also incur medical-related costs, higher employee benefit costs, increased insurance premiums, and increased sick leave expenses. Furthermore, when a domestic violence incident occurs in the workplace, the incident disrupts the productivity of other employees. It has been estimated that the total cost per year of workplace domestic violence is $1.8 billion.

The bottom line is that it makes legal and financial sense to address domestic violence in the workplace along with any other type of workplace violence. It also makes sense to address the consequences of employees who bring household domestic violence to work with them, as these too can have an impact on productivity and the quality and quantity of work being produced by the entire workforce. Many employers will also acknowledge a moral obligation to provide the best level of care for employees.

Solutions for Addressing Domestic Violence in the Workplace

Many HR professionals advocate abuse awareness training and the implementation of policies and procedures to address domestic violence in the workplace. Although raising awareness of domestic violence is undoubtedly a good thing, especially if employers commit to reporting incidents so the scale of the issue can be accurately quantified, raising awareness in itself is not going to overcome the unwillingness of victims to come forward and seek help. For that to happen there needs to be a complementary solution that is both discrete and effective.

One of the most widely used solutions in these circumstances is an anonymous tip texting app. Abused employees can use the apps to confidentially and anonymously seek help from HR departments, while colleagues of the victim can also contact HR departments to raise concerns with complete confidentiality. Anonymous tip technology is proven to increase engagement and encourages employees to share critical information - not only about domestic violence, but also about other threats such as bullying, insider theft, and drug abuse.

In some cases, these solutions integrate seamlessly emergency notification solutions that can simultaneously warn employees about a potentially malicious partner on premises, and alert security personnel (and law enforcement if necessary) to a potential act of violence. All three solutions are quick and easy to implement, and are the best way to support policies and procedures to address domestic violence in the workplace. 

Workplace Violence Ebook

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