Including Terrorism Awareness in Your Orientations

22 June 2017

Terrorism presents a constant threat to institutions, businesses and individuals. While it is important to refrain from scaremongering, companies should consider their security and emergency response procedures and assess if they are robust enough to cope with an attack and prepared for counter terrorism training. It is also crucial that employees are aware of possible terrorist threats, as well as for employers to minimize the effects of terrorism through counter terrorism training.

In the United States, the workplace has been the primary target of terrorism. This is attributed to the fact that terrorism leads to workplace disruption, which negatively impacts on the country’s economy infrastructure and health. Presently, many workplaces remain unprotected from terrorist attacks. This includes mass transportation systems upon which employees rely on to get to their place of work. As such, it can be agreed that the workplace will continue to be an ideal target for international terrorists—even more so due to a lack of preparedness and a perceived lack of employer emphasis on workplace preparedness for terrorism.

So, should counter terrorism training and awareness be included in orientation training? The answer is, yes.

What is orientation training and why is it important?

Employee orientation programs differ from company to company. Additionally, the content of the program varies depending on the type of industry. There are two main reasons why an organization should have orientation training in place. The first reason is because it starts the employee off with the right information to ensure maximum productivity as possible, and second, it fulfills the organization’s legal obligation to train a new worker in safe work practices. A typical orientation program should include:

  • An introduction to the organization’s policies and procedures
  • Face-to-face introduction to key staff
  • A guided tour of the workplace
  • Safety and emergency procedures—this is where terrorism awareness should be included
  • Instructions on how to complete day-to-day tasks in a safe manner

Terrorism and the workplace

In today’s society, employees need to be prepared for all possible emergencies, including terrorism. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, terrorism is the use of intended force to influence or bring about a course of action, which furthers a political or social objective.

Thus, acts of terrorism are designed to create terror and panic, disrupt security and communication systems, and destroy property while killing and injuring innocent civilians. Terrorists often target high-traffic areas, therefore, some workplaces are more vulnerable than others—such as an airport or shopping mall. Terrorists often use a range of weapons and tactics so planning against terrorism and training employees how to reduce the threat or respond to attacks can be complex and broad. That said, it is an activity which must be engaged in.

8 topics terrorism awareness orientations should cover

counter terrorism

Should a terrorist act occur, employers should not only be prepared to help affected employees but also prepare and teach their workers so they know what to do in the event of an act. Here are eight topics that counter terrorism awareness orientations should cover.

1. What is terrorism? – Defining terrorism is the first thing you ought to cover in your safety training. The effects that terrorism can have goes beyond the immediate event; this event can affect every aspect in a worker’s life.

2. The safe handling and delivery of letters and packages at the workplace – Terrorism has had a history of using the postal service system to deliver their acts. By using letter and packages, terrorists can deliver biological and/or chemical weapons to a workplace. Learning how to identify suspicious mail and having a procedure on how to handle the situation can save lives.

3. Dealing with bomb threats – Knowing how to handle a bomb threat can mean the difference between life and death. Educate your workforce on what to do in the event that a bomb threat is received. Knowing who to inform when a threat is received can decrease the chance of an actual bomb being delivered to the workplace.

4. Travel and transportation safety guidelines – When traveling, understanding how to stay safe can prevent any tragedies. Have security procedures in place when traveling, such as identifying secure escape routes in a convention center. Knowing what the political climate of the region you and your employees will be traveling to can help shape your safety guidelines.

5. Security of the workplace facility – Your workplace may be large or small, but nonetheless identifying emergency exits, restricted areas and access routes must be in your safety orientation. Teaching your employees the procedure during evacuation drills and procedures can prep them in the event of an actual terrorist attack. Safeguarding the workplace facility can go high-tech and low-tech as well. Using tech such as self-locking doors, RFID door keys and badges are some things you can do to improve security.

6. Cyber-terrorism, and protecting business computer systems – In the information age, cyber-terrorism is a deadly form of terror that can have significant consequences on global systems, and this includes small and large workplace facilities. By using preventative measures to minimize computer access from the rest of the world, such as anti-virus and firewall programs, you can reduce the chances of being a victim of cyber-attacks.

7. Psychology of terrorismTerrorism can have a significant impact on those directly and indirectly affected. It is important to understand why terror attacks occur in the first place, how to counter terrorism and what you as an employer can do to minimize stress and trauma caused by acts of terror.

8. Being patient, alert and ready – Nobody wants another terror attack to happen, but it is imperative to be alert and ready in the event of a terrorist attack.

Keeping workers safe

Because terrorists look for environments with large numbers of people and enclosed spaces, workplaces could be targeted. Therefore, it is important for every employer to be proactive in keeping employees safe. Furthermore, it shows that being prepared for the unexpected demonstrates that employers truly care about their employees. While it may seem that there is little we can do to stop terrorists, improved employee awareness can empower individuals and may help save lives.

Being prepared for a terrorist attack boils down to being aware of the warning signs and being cautious and alert. Different workplaces may be easier to penetrate than others, may have a greater population density or may have workers who are less familiar with their surroundings, such as contract workers. Similarly to all workplace hazards, counter terrorism awareness training should be included as part of orientations and should be refreshed on a regular basis.

Keeping workers up to date on all things safety on-site is of the utmost importance! Great safety training requires a great platform to be successful. Let GoContractor take charge of your safety orientations today!

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Jenny Snook

Jenny Snook is content executive at GoContractor with the job of researching the latest health and safety trends in the heavy industry. Her past-experience includes the research of large museum collections such as the Louth County Museum, many from the industrial age.

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