The word “lockdown” is one we are all too familiar with, but there’s one form of lockdown that as a business owner, you need to be on top of. Terrorism threats, of any kind, are a risk that business owners should be prepared to deal with, especially if you have a premises that is accessible to the public. Hospitals, schools and other authority premises such as council buildings all have lockdown procedures in place to deal with the threat of terrorism, whether that is a bomb threat, a protest that turns violent, or a lone person making threats to the public or staff. These types of premises are considered high risk, but it is worth having a lockdown procedure in place no matter what your business does.
Keeping your staff safe is the top priority here, so when you are drawing up a lockdown procedure it should be geared towards keeping people safe from the threat, with the integrity of your business premises second. Key considerations include the provision of drinking water and food in case a threat lasts for several hours. Somewhere safe for staff to shelter where they cannot be seen from outside the building is also needed, together with methods of contacting the emergency services if you are the direct victim of a threat.
A safe space for staff should be somewhere lockable, preferably with a fire door. This would be ideal as the extra level of protection the heavy, fireproof door gives can help buy you time if someone accesses your building. It is worth having signs ready to display on doors, informing people that the premises is in lockdown, and you should also make provisions for communication with the families of your staff members and the emergency services. If you are in an area with poor mobile signal you should ensure that a landline or internet connection is present in the safe space. It is also a good idea to keep a first aid kit in that room as well.
An access control system and CCTV can help you deal with a lockdown situation very effectively, as the camera feeds keep you up to date with what is happening and who is outside and inside the building. An access control system can be activated and used to deny entry to anyone, including a person that holds key fob (which is particularly important for large organisations where a key fob may have been stolen from the staff member by someone intent on causing havoc). Your access control system will also tell you who is on the premises at that time, making an accurate head count possible. If you own large premises, you may be able to activate doors to lock to keep staff in other areas safe, and this is something to bear in mind when considering installing any type of access control system.
Your intruder alarm will also serve you well if you have to place your premises into a lockdown, as the alarm sounding can alert you to a breach of the building even if your CCTV system doesn’t. If your business is at risk of terrorist threats then a burglar alarm system that can be set in stages (thereby allowing people to move within areas of the building without sounding the alarm) is the best option for you, as it gives you the flexibility to lock down some but not all parts of your premises.
When you draw up a lockdown procedure it should be communicated to all staff and treated in a similar way to your fire safety procedures, with a drill recommended to ensure all staff know what they need to do if you have to put the building into a lockdown. The chances are you will never have to use the procedure, but having one in place gives you peace of mind as well as a robust plan of action should the worst happen.