Minimising the Risk of Terrorism in the Workplace
Terrorism is not a new phenomenon, but with the UK targeted four times in as many weeks it can be extremely concerning for employees.
The recent Manchester bombing, followed by the terrorist attacks in London have prompted increased security efforts in social spaces, shopping areas and event spaces, but what about the workplace?
What are the responsibilities of an employer, how can they be proactive in keeping employees safe, and being how can they prepared for the unexpected?
This short guide will help employers understand the preventative actions they can take and the latest Government guidance should they, and their employees, be caught up in an attack.
Establish and communicate plans and procedures
The actions taken in the initial minutes of an emergency are critical.
There is little time to think, so having well-communicated emergency plans in place will not only help to ensure your employees are kept as safe as possible, they will also ensure your business continues to survive if a crisis does occur.
Plans should include evacuation routes, up-to-date emergency contact numbers for all employees, and processes for involving the police (if appropriate).
Procedures may differ depending on the threat, so multiple plans are likely to be needed.
Make sure employees know what’s expected
If plans are communicated clearly employees will be able to able to act appropriately in an emergency. Work closely with your employees to ensure they understand what they need to do in the event of an attack.
Current Government guidance is:
- Escape if you can
- Consider the safest options
- Is there a safe route? RUN if not HIDE
- Can you get there without exposing yourself to greater danger?
- Insist others leave with you
- Leave belongings behind
- If you cannot RUN, HIDE
- Find cover from gunfire
- If you can see the attacker, they may be able to see you
- Cover from view does not mean you are safe, bullets go through glass, brick, wood and metal
- Find cover from gunfire e.g. substantial brickwork / heavy reinforced walls
- Be aware of your exits
- Try not to get trapped
- Be quiet, silence your phone and turn off vibrate
- Lock/barricade yourself in
- Move away from the door
Call 999 – think about what do the police need to know.
If you cannot speak or make a noise listen to the instructions given to you by the call taker.
Pre-employment checks are a vital tool to ensure the applicant is the person they claim to be. Such checks will help to established whether the applicant has withheld important information or misrepresented themselves.
There are many reasons why someone may falsify their identity, from those avoiding taxes and child maintenance to illegal immigrants to terrorists who wish to remain anonymous and/or undetected.
Examples of pre employment checks you can carry out include:
- Identity checks – including photo identifications
- Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks – for those who do regulated work with children and/or protected adults and vulnerable groups
- Evidence of the right to work and remain in the UK
You must ensure the same checks are applied to each applicant to avoid any potential discrimination claims.
Be aware of any change in employee behaviour
As details emerge around those responsible for the recent UK attacks we learn that many of those involved changed they way they behaved leading up to the attacks.
Ensure your management team is monitoring any changes in behaviour. If you have concerns that an individual is potentially being radicalised call 101 and quote ‘channel’ or, if it is an emergency, call 999.
Monitor internet activity
After the recent spate of attacks, it has become apparent that those involved used the internet to plan, promote, glorify or help carry out acts of terrorism.
Monitor your employees’ internet usage and report any content you find online which you feel is offensive or illegal. If you’re unsure, current guidance states terrorist material can include the following:
- Articles, images, speeches or videos that promote terrorism
- Content encouraging people to commit acts of terrorism
- Websites made by terrorist organisations
- Videos of terrorist attacks
Train employees on what is considered suspicious activity
Encourage employees to report anything suspicious to their manager and to the police, if necessary. Give employees clear examples of what should put them on alert and what they should do about it – again, this is where established procedures and processes like those detailed above can play a vital role in managing terrorism in the workplace.
Managing hate crime in the workplace
Reports of hate crime have increased following the Manchester and London attacks.
With tensions so high such acts could transfer in to the workplace. As an employer you have a responsibility to make sure your employees feel comfortable at work.
You have an obligation to respond to all alleged threats or acts of racism, whether the act is alleged to have come from an employee or a third party.