Coping in a Terrorist Attack
A business contingency plan is essential to all businesses and is the focus of this blog.
Unfortunately, we are experiencing increased terror attacks in the UK resulting in unimaginable consequences. Employers should prepare employees how to manage in such circumstances. Focus should be on two elements:
- Focusing on employee safety
- Protecting the viability of the business.
The Purpose of a Business Contingency Plan
The purpose of a business contingency plan is to establish normal operations as soon as possible and to manage this. A crisis management team is required with the objective of ensuring employees are aware of the plan and are supported should it need to be implemented.
All businesses should have a contingency plan in place. A good contingency plan will ensure minimal impact and efficient management of the organisation in the aftermath of a major incident. There are many incidents that may have a detrimental effect on a business such as:
- IT failure
- Power cut
- Building fire
- Absence of a key employee
- Terrorist attacks affecting both individual employees and the Company
What Should A Business Contingency Plan Contain?
The content of a business contingency plan should be reflective of the above and will include sections on planning, levels of an incident, training, testing, periodic review and roles and responsibilities in response to an incident.
Some examples include:
- Consideration of the effect of losing key personnel?
- Casualty management – this is more than just normal first aid and additionally with a significant shortage of emergency services, a first aider may be with a casualty for up to two hours. How well trained are your first aiders?
- Risk assessment – Is your business more vulnerable than others. A business operating in a secure area is less vulnerable than somewhere that is open to the public.
Terror Attack Affecting Employees
Consideration and planning details to be captured in the contingency plan will include managing absent employees.
An outline of treatment of employees caught up in a terror attack that does not directly affect the business must be documented. If your business uses an absent management scheme, it would be unfair to include associated time off, it would need to be an exception to the rule.
Employees may need counselling that would not necessarily be an employer’s responsibility to provide, however it would clearly benefit both parties. Other employees may require counselling if their colleagues are caught up in a terror attack. Other considerations are that work performance is likely to reduce, distracted employees may not provide the level of customer service they normally do and there are many more examples that could be provided. As an employer, you need to factor this into the Human Resource section of your contingency plan.
Terror Attack Affecting the Business
It is essential that the business provides guidance and training to employees to know how to react and what to do in the event of a direct terror attack on the business. The Government have provided guidance to the public “Run Hide Tell” and additionally a 30 second animation to help individuals stay safe in the event of an attack.
A drill should be carried out periodically to prepare employees. Individuals all react differently to a crisis and consideration of this is critical. Employees should know where they can go within the building to hide, employees should be observant of colleagues who may freeze, panic and scream and encourage them to follow the Government guidance “Run Hide Tell”.
Further, different types of terror attack will require different reactions, if there is a bomb an evacuation is priority and the contingency plan will identify who is responsible for evacuating the building, calling the emergency authorities, prioritising casualties and administering first aid.
Part of the contingency plan may be ensuring all employees are aware of the citizen aid app during a training session. You may choose to have a dedicated number that employees can text to confirm they are safe.
As an employer, you may also consider installing panic buttons and having swipe card access to external and internal doors.
High Risk Areas and International Employees
Considerations for contingency plans in respect of workers who travel through, or work in, high risk cities such as Manchester and London and areas like the London Underground and airports will be different to those based in the main building.
Currently Qatar is experiencing political issues, if you have international employees in high risk areas your contingency plan will need to reflect realistic management of those employees and the business associated with their role.
Ensure that all employees next of kin details are up to date and accessible following a major incident. Business savvy employers have suitable IT systems in place that back up its data and that can be accessed to those in authority via the internet.
The human side of the business will always be the main priority and only after this has been managed can the actual operational considerations be put into action. These will include, but are not limited to:
- Notifying insurance companies
- Notify and communicate to employees what will be happening in the immediate aftermath of the incident
- Ensuring the building premise is secure and any loose documents are not accessed by individuals
- Arranging for individuals to collect personal items
- Identifying where employees can work from
- Informing customers of the situation and managing their expectations
Any incident that affects the efficient operation of a business will be need to be considered in a contingency plan. It is advisable to ensure that training is provided and all employees have the opportunity to participate. Terror attacks are a high possibility and preparation is key to the safety and survival of employees.