Bomb threats are serious and scary events for all businesses, institutions or people involved. Whether it is in the form of a suspicious package mailed to an organisation, a dubious item like a bag left lying around or a telephone call, all kinds of communicated threat should be treated with caution.
They are mostly carried out to attract attention or cause panic and alarm amongst employees. A bomb threat is rare, and many threats often turn out to be mere hoaxes. However, it is better to follow proper procedure and ensure everyone’s safety in a serious event like this.
Businesses may have various health and safety procedures to combat events like these, but not every employee may know about them or remember the steps in the policy. Therefore, all health and safety legislation should be easily accessible to all employees, included in documents like a company handbook.
The UK government has an extensive policy guide for handling all kinds of bomb threats, and a checklist to determine if a threat is credible and real. They say that “no matter how ridiculous or implausible the threat may seem, all such communications are a crime” and so the police should always be informed.
Despite more and more bomb threats being made over information technologies like social media, traditional modes of threatening businesses such as suspicious packages in the mail or items being left in the workplace are still a risk that need to be accounted for. Organisations can prepare for all eventualities by carrying out a risk assessment.
What to Do in The Event of a Bomb Threat
If an organisation is experiencing any kind of bomb threat, the most important thing to bear in mind is to keep calm. One of the main aims that perpetrators have in filing a threat is to cause panic and alarm, so the situation is made a lot worse if a person fails to remain calm.
Following the discovery of a dubious package that may have metallic wires sticking out of it or resembling an odd shape, it must be set down on a flat surface as soon as possible. This applies to all strange objects found in the workplace as any kind of movement of the item may detonate an explosive device found inside or spread toxic chemicals. The object must not be opened, but if from the outside it did not appear dangerous, immediately stop opening it when you notice something strange and set it down. It is also important to single-out the object from other workplace items so that when the police come, they can clearly identify it and manage the danger.Employees, upon hearing about the danger, must follow company evacuation procedure. Organisations must have appropriate evacuation procedures that are familiar to employees, including evacuation assembly points and routes of exit. If there is a reported explosive device, often it is safer to follow what the UK Government call an ‘invacuation’, where all employees and personnel remain inside the building if a threat is found in a neighbouring office. Organisations may need to consult specialist health & safety planners to establish a safe place in the office for an invacuation, as not all workplace spaces can be used.
After a safe evacuation or invacuation, the police should be informed. They will send officers to properly dispose of the hazard and inform all employees of when it is safe to return. Effective communications to the police, media, employees and neighbouring businesses is very important, however organisations should “avoid revealing details about specific incidents to the media or through social media without prior consultation with police”.
If you receive a bomb threat by phone or over social media, the process is a little more straightforward. Record as much information about the caller as possible i.e. phone number, voice characteristics, account details or any other noticeable information mentioned in the threat or message. Afterwards, immediately inform the police of any information you could obtain, as it will aid the investigation hugely.