Preparing for Workplace Terrorism

Terrorism can have many faces, whether the armed professionals in the Paris attacks, or the young couple armed with semiautomatic rifles and handguns in San Bernadino. For any of these cases, having a workplace preparedness plan for terrorism is a priority for today’s business.

According to the's Project Management page, the Insurance Information Institute says "up to 40 per cent of businesses affected by a natural or human-caused disaster never reopen."

Corporations and the workplace are desirable targets of international terrorism, wrote Dr. Robert Ursano in a report called Workplace Preparedness for Terrorism. "People exposed to terrorism, whether in close proximity to or far from the affected site, are at increased risk for a range of health-related responses,” Ursano wrote. This includes mental illness, distress, or behavior changes.

"In a separate case, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was found 'negligent' in safeguarding the World Trade Center before the first terror attack in 1993. The result of these two rulings is that companies can be held liable if they cannot demonstrate that they have taken reasonable actions to prepare for, and respond to a terrorist attack,” said Company Primer: Preparedness and Response Planning for Terrorist and Bioterrorist Attacks.

Some basic guidelines begin by selecting a team within the infrastructure of the company to efficiently and effectively prepare a plan to create, execute and refine a plan. The members of the team should span the various levels of the company.

Some basic guidelines:

"The specific industry, size and scope of your individual company will determine your organization's risk assessment needs,” according to Spencer Williams' article on, Every Business Should Have a Plan.

It is important to maintain business continuity during a period of adversity. Examine the vulnerability and operational requirements, establish emergency response protocols, and make sure a crisis communication plan is in place. Check that your company is adequately insured for such emergencies.

Some resources to aid in detailed preparedness plans can be found here:

Ready.Gov: Every Business Should Have a Plan.

Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress: Workplace Preparedness for Terrorism.


CDC: Emergency Response Resources: Emergency Preparedness for Business. Terrorist Hazards.