How to Prepare for A Terrorist Attack in the Workplace

How to Prepare for A Terrorist Attack in the Workplace
How to Prepare for A Terrorist Attack in the Workplace

The topic of terrorism is in the news this again week, following another terrorist attack on members of the public in South London on Sunday. This prompted the team at Prosafe (UK) Ltd to think about How to Prepare for A Terrorist Attack in the Workplace.

Terrorism isn’t a hazard that used to come up very often when businesses did risk assessments, but times are changing and therefore our attitudes to this relatively new threat have to change as well.

So are we at risk of terror attacks at work? How can we assess the threats and what action can workplaces take to minimize the dangers?

To help answer these questions, The National Counter-terrorism Security Office have produced specific advice to help mitigate the threat of a physical terrorist attack specifically in crowded workplaces.

First of all let’s familiarize ourselves with some of the terminology.

Threat Levels

Lets start with the five levels of threat which are:

  1. Critical – An attack is highly likely in the near future
  2. Severe – An attack is highly likely
  3. Substantial – An attack is likely
  4. Moderate – An attack is possible but
  5. Low – An attack is highly unlikely

Terrorism threat levels are designed to give a broad indication of the likelihood of a terrorist attack. They are based on the assessment of a range of factors such as current intelligence, recent events and what is known about terrorist intentions and capabilities.

Those who own, operate, manage or work in crowded workplaces need to especially note that ‘substantial’ and ‘severe’ threat levels both indicate that an attack might well come without warning.

Response Levels

The three response levels are:

  1. Exceptional – Maximum protective security measures to meet specific threats and to minimise vulnerability and risk – unsustainable.
  2. Heightened – Additional and sustainable protective security measures reflecting the broad nature of the threat combined with specific business and geographical vulnerabilities and judgements on acceptable risk
  3. Normal – Routine protective security measures appropriate to the business concerned

The UK Government Response Levels provide a general indication of the protective security measures that should be applied at any particular time. They are informed by the threat level, but also take into account specific assessments of vulnerability and risk.

How to Prepare for A Terrorist Attack in the Workplace – What action can you take now?

• Carry out a risk assessment that is specific to your site or venue.

• Identify a range of practical protective security measures that are appropriate for each of the response levels.

• Regularly review the response level for your site or venue at security meetings.

• Clearly display signage informing staff of the building response level. This should not be displayed in public areas.

• Regularly train, test and exercise.

The protective security measures to be implemented at each response level are a matter for individual premises or organisations. These will differ according to a range of circumstances. All protective security measures should be identified in advance of any change in threat and response levels.

Another important point is that they should be clearly notified to those staff who are responsible for ensuring compliance. It is important to test and exercise your activity for each response level.

Understanding the threat facing us is key to ensuring protective security measures and mitigations are proportionate, effective and responsive.

What should you do if you’re under threat?

As an employer or as an employee, if you feel at significant risk of a terrorist attack:

  • Contact 999 to report an imminent threat
  • Contact the Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321 to report suspicious activity
  • Contact MI5 if you know something about a threat to national security such as terrorism or espionage

If you find ever yourself in immediate threat from a terrorist attack, the clear message is  ‘Run, Hide, Tell’:

  • Run – to a place of safety. This is a far better option than to surrender or negotiate. If there’s nowhere to go, then…
  • Hide – it’s better to hide than to confront. Remember to turn your phone to silent and turn off vibrate. Barricade yourself in if you can. Then finally, and only when it is safe to do so …
  • Tell – the police by calling 999

For more advice on this topic or any other Health and Safety help call Prosafe (UK) Ltd on 01724 712342 or email

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