Human Resources Procedures/Guidelines
Lockdown Procedures
Guidelines for the Development of a Lockdown Procedures

Category: Health and Safety
Sub-Category: General

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Background

Lockdown Procedures are defined in the Violence in the Workplace Prevention Guide (Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety) as meaning “… the people in a building take refuge in a secure location, e.g. in offices or classrooms. Lockdown procedures are usually initiated when it is unsafe to evacuate the building.”

The City’s Workplace Violence Policy requires divisions to conduct workplace violence hazard assessments to determine whether the nature of the work or the work environment places employees at risk and to take all reasonable and practical measures to minimize or eliminate risks identified through the hazard assessment process, workplace inspections, or the occurrence of an incident.


When should lock down procedures be developed and implemented?

Certain risk factors may be identified during workplace violence risk assessments that would separately or in combination warrant the development and implementation of lockdown procedures for a facility or group of facilities. Such risk factors may include:

  • Past occurrences at the facility or similar type of facility
  • Past occurrences at neighboring facilities
  • Proximity of the facility to potentially risk areas (schools, courts, etc)
  • Advice of the Toronto Police Service

When reviewing the need for any emergency procedure consideration should be given to:

  1. Whether the type of emergency can be reasonably foreseen; and,
  2. If the emergency counter-measures (procedures) being considered will be useful and practical.

It should be noted that lockdown procedures alone will rarely be the only action that is required in response to any identified workplace violence risk factor. It is important for City management and staff to identify staff and visitors who might pose a danger to others and to take applicable action. For staff, management must intervene and use applicable resources, such as the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to assist. In the cases of schools shootings, many attackers were victims of bullying or harassment and, in many of these cases, individuals were aware of warning signs but failed to notify the applicable persons or seek to get the individual proper assistance. Another important preventative action is to practice proper basic security procedures such as delineating employee and public space, notifying Security/Management of suspicious individuals/items, locking doors and reporting all incidents of misconduct or breaches.

Lockdown procedures are often developed to reduce the number of casualties that could occur if there is a shooter inside or outside a facility. While physical threats are normally attributed to an armed intruder or hostage taker, this however does not have to be the case. Physical threats may come in the form of any individual or group of individuals, with or without any type of weapon, having the intent to cause injury. Physical threats may be a result of workplace violence, domestic violence, protest, demonstration, a criminal act occurring near a facility, a law enforcement attempted apprehension near the facility, etc. Lockdown procedures may assist in addressing physical threats from any of these causes.

A number of City facilities already have lockdown procedures in place. These procedures are typically incorporated into the emergency plans for the facility.


Types of Lockdowns

The following information with respect to types of lockdowns and recommended content for procedures is intended to assist divisions whose workplace violence hazard assessment identifies the need for such procedures.

There are generally three types of lockdowns:

  • Shelter-in-Place.
  • Hold and Secure (Partial lockdown for danger due to physical/environmental threat outside the facility or in neighbourhood).
  • Full Lockdown for danger due to physical threat inside the facility.

1. Shelter-in-Place

This type of lockdown is normally referred to when an environmental threat is present outside and it is not possible or advisable to evacuate the facility. This type of action is normally in response to an air contaminant and involves keeping the air contaminates outside the building and keeping persons from unnecessarily putting themselves in medical danger.

2. Hold and Secure (Partial Lockdown for danger due to a physical or environmental threat outside the facility or in the neighbourhood)

This type of lockdown is used when a serious environmental/physical threat is present outside of the facility or in the neighbourhood and prevention measures need to be enacted to:

  • protect individual(s) from leaving the facility and entering into an area of danger; or
  • prevent the threat from entering the facility.

3. Full Lockdown for danger due to physical threat inside the facility

This type of lockdown is used when the physical threat is already in the facility and measures need to be enacted to:

  • prevent the threat from accessing areas/assets being threatened;
  • To protect assets (individuals) from entering areas where the threat may be present; and,
  • To protect assets (individuals) from remaining in areas where the threat may be moving to.

Possible General Guidelines for Lockdowns

These guidelines are not intended to be all inclusive or to be used at all sites, as written, as it is recognized that each site is unique and requires individualized procedures. These protocols are however provided as a framework to help guide the creation of site specific procedures, where required.

One of the most important actions that must take place in any potential lockdown situation is to ensure the Police have been contacted. This action in addition to information regarding expected activities during the response from Police, Fire and EMS should be integrated into any procedures.

1. Shelter-in-Place

In the case of external health hazard, where it is not possible or advisable to evacuate the building, the following procedures are recommended:

  • A Building Manager, Security, or someone in authority making an announcement of a Shelter-in-Place over the facility’s public address system or other means of communication. Since some facilities do not have emergency notification systems, other means of communication will need to be developed.
  • All interior personnel should be advised to move upwards to an interior room on a higher floor since many agents are heavier than air.
  • All interior personnel should close windows and doors.
  • Building Operations staff should:

    • Ensure exterior doors are locked.
    • Turn off heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems.
    • Check the inventory of openings to ensure that no openings have been overlooked.
  • A Building Manager, Security, or someone in authority should monitor radio or television stations for further updates and have occupants remain in the shelter-in-place mode until authorities indicate it is safe to come out.

2. Hold and Secure (Partial Lockdown for danger due to a physical or environmental threat outside the facility or in the neighbourhood)

This scenario involves immediate precautions including:

  • A Building Manager, Security, or someone in authority making an announcement to HOLD AND SECURE over the facility’s public address system or other means of communication. Since some facilities do not have emergency notification systems, other means of communication will need to be developed.
  • This communication should advise individuals inside the building of the threat, not to leave the facility, to control movement inside the facility, and to advise that further updates will be provided. A sample wording for use on a public address system could start with “Attention, this is a security alert. We are implementing “hold and secure” procedures…”
  • A designated individual(s) physically securing entrance doors.
  • Closing all blinds and drapes.
  • Turning off room lights.
  • Keeping all persons away from windows.
  • All individuals preparing to move into a full/complete lockdown if required.

3. Full Lockdown for danger due to physical threat inside the facility

This scenario involves immediate precautions including:

  • A Building Manager, Security, or someone in authority making an announcement of a COMPLETE lockdown over the facility’s public address system or other means of communication. Since some facilities do not have emergency notification systems, other means of communication will need to be developed.
  • Individuals outside the facility should not enter the facility but instead head away from the building and meet at a pre-arranged evacuation point.
  • Individuals inside the facility should:

    • Remain in the room in which they are located.
    • If in a hallway, immediately head to the closest room and lock the door.
    • Supervisory staff should quickly look into the hallways, let non-threatening personnel into the room, and lock the door.
    • All individuals should move down onto the floor unless they hear otherwise from someone in authority.
    • All individuals should make as little noise as possible.
    • Individuals should turn off cell phones, pagers, radios, Blackberries, etc.
    • Close all windows and curtains.
    • Turn lights off.
    • Keeping all persons away from windows.

Other key factors to be taken into account in development of Lockdown Procedures

Prior to and during the development of lockdown procedures, the following should be considered:

  • Other actions that could prevent incidents of workplace violence including security measures, physical barriers and staff training in conflict resolution and workplace violence should be implemented as needed, in advance of or in conjunction with the development and implementation of lockdown procedures
  • Lockdown procedures should be developed in response to risks identified through the workplace violence risk assessment.
  • Lockdown procedures should be site specific and incorporated into site emergency plans.
  • There is a need to develop effective means of communicating lockdowns to staff, given that some facilities do not have emergency notification systems.
  • Procedures which are developed should take into account the means available to secure the facility. While some facilities have excellent access control systems where a Security Officer can push a few buttons and automatically secure all doors, this is not the case at many facilities and alternate means of securing a facility must be considered.
  • Lockdown practices and procedures must never interfere with the occupants’ abilities to evacuate promptly should the circumstances warrant it.
  • Emergency plans must be practiced to be effective. Regular information and/or training sessions for all staff is essential if lockdown procedures are developed.
  • Any lockdown procedure requires employee buy-in and participation, thereby making consultation during development of procedures essential.
  • Staff should be made aware that the City of Toronto has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) which can provide employees with direct access to professionals who can help resolve problems before they affect the employee’s health, personal life or job performance.
  • If possible a plan should include someone who will be accountable for staff

Approved by

  • Occupational Health and Safety Coordinating Committee, April 23, 2009
  • Reviewed by OHSCC: September 29, 2015 & April 26, 2016

Date Approved

April 23, 2009

Reviewed by OHSCC

April 26, 2016

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