Companies that are concerned about the increase in the number of workplace shootings are quietly installing gunfire-detection systems in their offices and factories. According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, many of these companies are taking this step without informing their employees because they don’t want to alarm them. This quick increase in the installation of workplace gunshot sensors is occurring in the wake of a number of workplace shootings in the past year, many of them resulting in multiple fatalities.
The most recent one occurred when a man who had been recently fired from his job, opened fire at an Aurora, Illinois, factory, killing five of his former colleagues and injuring five police officers. Other high-profile workplace shootings in recent months occurred at the California headquarters of YouTube, in the lobby of the Fifth Third Bancorp in Cincinnati, a newspaper in Maryland and in a hot-yoga studio in Florida.
The Journal article gives the example of a cloud computing company in Texas where management installed 150 gunshot-detection sensors around the large office in a converted shopping mall. Executives are saying that installing these sensors is better and subtler than putting up metal detectors at doors or posting guards.
How Do the Sensors Work?
Gunshot sensors essentially blend into walls and the ceiling and resemble fire-safety equipment. These were originally developed for the battlefield. A number of sensors use a combination of acoustic and infrared technology to “see” the flash of a gunshot while also hearing it. These sensors can be wired to alert police and instantly send notifications such as text messages and instant messages to employees on how to respond to the emergency.
Once the sensors detect a gunshot, the devices can track a person wielding a gun, integrating with camera systems as the individual moves through a building allowing police to track the person faster and neutralize the threat. The device can detect loud noises within a minimum of 2,500 square feet and uses infrared technology to detect a muzzle flash and confirm that a gunshot was, in fact, the source of the sound. The sensors cost around $1,200 each and large companies end up spending from $10,000 to hundreds of thousands of dollars on the systems.
Questions Remain About Effectiveness
While building codes in New York City and elsewhere require property owners and employers to install lifesaving equipment such as smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and fire alarm systems, no such regulation exists for gunshot detectors. These systems are so new that even several law enforcement agencies are not fully familiar with how they work. Research data on the effectiveness of these systems is also limited. Many universities across the nation have been strengthening their security with these gunshot detectors. The Journal reports based on public records that the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta spent more than $200,000 in 2018 to install 95 sensors across campus.
Liability in Workplace Shootings
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), homicide is currently the fourth-leading cause of fatal occupational injuries in the United States. The Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) finds that of the 4,679 fatal workplace injuries that occurred in the United States in 2014, 403 were workplace homicides. Employers have the responsibility under state and federal law to provide a safe place of employment to all employees – one that is free from dangers that may cause serious injury or death to employees.
In the case of workplace violence, an employer may be held liable if a plaintiff can show that the employer knew or should have known that violence may occur. An employer may also be penalized under the law if they knew that a hazard existed; that the employer or company knew of the existence of such a hazard; that the hazard was likely to cause injury or harm; and a feasible abatement (reduction) method existed.
Contacting an Experienced Lawyer
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries as a result of an employer or building owner’s negligence or being careless in keeping the property safe for tenants, visitors, guests, clients, employees, etc., the experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options, and also fight hard to recover just compensation for you.
Please contact us TOLL FREE 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-WORK-4-YOU (1-800-967-5496). WE CAN EVEN COME TO YOU. There is no attorneys’ fee unless we recover money for you. We can also help with personal injury and medical malpractice cases in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you have been seriously injured in any of the 50 U.S. states, please call us and we will try to help you with your case.
Other TOLL FREE phone numbers for us are:
1-800-RADIO-LAW, 1-888-WYPADEK, OR 1-800-LAS-LEYES
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