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Health and Safety when under attack

Health and Safety when under attack



The enormity of the impact of the recent terror attacks cannot be overstated, as any employer with staff caught up in the events will fully understand.  No doubt, like us, you will have been humbled by the many individual reports coming through the various media. 

But what can, or should, an employer do?  Whilst this update does not seek to represent a full exposition of the actions and measures individuals and employers should take it does focus on some of the key guidance currently available from the government bodies.  In particular, you might find the publication ‘Recognising the terrorist threat’ from the National Counter-Terrorism Security Office useful:

An employer’s actions, as with most controls, will fall back to the outcome of a Risk Assessment.  As we know the start point is to identify the hazards and in essence, two main hazards exist – being harmed by an explosion or being harmed by attack by weapons (generally gunfire or knife attack). 

We hope the following basic information will prompt you to think about your company procedures.  


Dealing with a bomb threat (on work premises).

Our regular clients will no doubt find general arrangements for dealing with bomb threats within their Health & Safety Policy so please take time to refer to that. This covers hazards such as telephone threats and letter / parcel bombs. 

The latest terror attacks, whilst being in public places, have also included places of work or have impacted upon those at work as well as the general public. as noted above it is impossible here to give anything beyond a few points to consider and we recommend that you check out the link provided above.  This includes the following information relating to dealing with suspicious parcels / packages.

Does it show suspicious characteristics, is it deliberately concealed or obviously hidden from view?  Does it have wires, circuit boards, batteries, tape, liquids or putty-like substances visible?  Do you think the item poses an immediate threat to life and is it typical of what you would expect to find in this location? 

Clear the immediate area. Do not touch the package but move people away to a safe distance and corden off the area. There are some recommended distances in the ‘Recognising the terrorist threat’ publication, but if in any doubt, evacuate the building.  Keep yourself and other people out of line of sight of the item. It is a broad rule, but generally if you cannot see the item then you are better protected from it.  Think about what you can hide behind. Pick something substantial and keep away from glass such as windows and skylights. 

Call 999.  Inform a Senior Manager with details of the location of the object and do not use radios within 15 metres.

Control access to the cordoned area.  Members of the public should not be able to approach the area until it is deemed safe. Try and keep eyewitnesses on hand so they can tell police what they saw.

It is important to remember that Firearms and Weapons attacks are rare in the UK. Government guidance have developed the ‘STAY SAFE’ principles, which provide some simple actions to consider at an incident and the information that armed officers may need in the event of a weapons or firearm attack:  

Should you run or hide? 


Escape if you can; Consider the safest options; Is there a safe route? Can you get there without exposing yourself to greater danger? Insist others leave with you; Leave belongings behind.
If you cannot RUN, or it is not safe to run, then 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 - 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 operator: Location - Where are the suspects? Direction - Where did you last see the suspects? Descriptions – Describe the attacker, numbers, features, clothing, weapons etc. Further information – Casualties, type of injury, building information, entrances, exits, hostages etc. Stop other people entering the building if it is safe to do so

Armed Police Response
Follow officers’ instructions; Remain calm; Can you move to a safer area? Avoid sudden movements that may be considered a threat; Keep your hands in view.

Remember - Officers may: Point guns at you; Treat you firmly; Question you; Be unable to distinguish you from the attacker; Officers will evacuate you when it is safe to do so. 

Where you are involved in putting on, or working at major events, where large numbers of the public or audiences will be present, contact the local emergency services for advice and guidance. 

You may also need to revisit some, or all of the following:

  • Loan worker arrangements
  • Advice for employees working at events

Site evacuation plans, refresh the training and awareness of your evacuation marshals (Fire Marshals) and have you adequately covered your local plans for persons with special sensory, communication or mobility needs – Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPs). 

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