Each year, thousands of businesses, schools and other establishments are mailed suspicious items (e.g., unmarked packages) or are the target of bomb threats. These threats can be made via phone calls, letters, social media channels, emails or other similar means.
Bomb threats and suspicious items are often used to cause alarm, panic, disruption or, in extreme cases, direct harm. However these threats are made, organizations of all kinds need to take them seriously and know how to respond appropriately.
What to Do If You Receive a Bomb Threat
Businesses often wrongly assume they aren’t at risk of a bomb threat. However, the truth is that no organization is 100 percent safe from malicious attacks or threats, making proper preparation all the more important. In the event that your organization receives a bomb threat – whether it be over the phone, via email or another means – follow these procedures.
Threats Made Over the Phone
- Remain calm. Keep the caller on the line for as long as possible, and don’t hang up even if the caller does.
- Signal or pass a note to another staff member, instructing them to notify the authorities. If this isn’t possible, call 911 from another phone after the caller hangs up.
- Document as much information about the call as possible. Details related to a caller ID number, the wording of the threat, the time of the call, background noises on the caller’s end, and the tone and inflection of the caller can all aid investigators. If possible, ask questions to infer specific details about the threat itself, including:
- Who is making the threat and where they are calling from
- The type of device and when it might go off
- What the device looks like
- Where the device is located
- Who the target is
- Record the call if possible.
- Be available for interviews.
- Follow any instructions from facility supervisors and local authorities. These individuals will also provide specific guidance related to facility lockdowns, searches or evacuations.
Threats Made Via Email, Online Platforms, the Mail or Other Source
- Call 911.
- Preserve the threat. If the threat is made online, take a screenshot. If the threat is made through the mail, store it in a safe place and handle it as minimally as possible.
- Note where the threat was found, who found it and when they found it.
- Wait for further instructions from the proper authorities.
In the event of a threat, staff members should avoid using two-way radios, cellular phones or any other electronics, as signals from these devices could potentially detonate a bomb. In addition, you should avoid activating alarms or evacuating the building until the proper authorities evaluate the threat. Law enforcement officials will direct the evacuation if one is necessary.
What to Do If You Find or Receive a Suspicious Item
In general, a suspicious item is any item – like a bag or package – that is believed to contain explosives, improvised explosive devices or hazardous materials. When it comes to identifying these items, you should watch out for unexplainable or unusual wires, electronics, sounds, vapors, mists or odors.
It is not uncommon for establishments to find or receive suspicious items and, while they may end up being harmless, it’s good practice to be overly cautious. As a good rule of thumb, any item that is Hidden, Obviously suspicious and not Typical (HOT) should be deemed suspicious.
In the event that your organization finds or receives a suspicious item, you should:
- Remain calm.
- Avoid touching, tampering or moving the item.
- Notify the proper authorities and your facility supervisor. Follow any and all of their instructions carefully.
Plan Ahead and Stay Safe
When it comes to bomb threats and suspicious items, every situation is unique. Typically, facility supervisors and law enforcement officials will be in the best position assess the situation, determine if a real risk is present and provide instruction on how to respond.
For even more protection, businesses should review guidance provided by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice. Doing so can help you better prepare for potential threats. For more workplace safety advice and risk mitigation tips, contact Scurich Insurance today.
The International Risk Management Institute’s Construction Risk Conference (CRC), held from November 4-7, 2018, in Houston, Texas, is designed for construction professionals like you. If you decide to invest in your business and attend this conference, here’s what you need to know.
What is the CRC?
Held annually, the CRC brings together a variety of experts who share up-to-date information about construction industry risks, insurance trends, and strategies and tactics you can take to avoid risks. This year’s sessions include:
- Kathy Antonello, Chief Actuary at the National Council on Compensation Insurance, will discuss “Workers Compensation Trends and Challenges in Construction.” You’ll learn about trends, challenges and ways to manage your Workers’ Compensation program.
- The View from My Seat offers tools you can use to manage new technologies, labor shortages, law and regulation changes, and other evolving construction risks.
- Jim “The Rookie” Morris shares his inspirational and motivational story.
- Breakout Sessions and Snap Talks dive into topics like contracts, design liability, construction delays, and your supply chain.
Who Attends CRC?
The CRC is designed for a variety of people who work in the construction industry. It’s important for:
- General contractors.
- Project owners and managers.
- Construction lawyers.
- Insurance agents, brokers, underwriters, and adjusters.
- Consultants and service providers.
Why should you Attend CRC?
Consider attending the CRC to gain five benefits.
- Gain knowledge about emerging risks, trends and solutions. As you understand new threats in your industry and to your business, you’ll also learn how to manage these challenges in ways that protect your company.
- Position yourself as an expert. Attending a conference will enhance your knowledge and understanding. Use the information you gain to improve your business offerings and reputation as an expert.
- Expand your network. Meet and collaborate with other construction professionals as you strengthen valuable relationships and share advice and support.
- Identify your insurance needs. After learning more about your risks, you can identify and purchase the right insurance coverage for your business.
- Rejuvenate your mind and body. While you’ll listen to experts and network with peers, you also have time to rest and relax, which allows you to return to work mentally and physically refreshed.
How do you Register?
Registration is open until November 7. However, you can take advantage of the Standard rate and save $400 when you register before October 12. Save even more with the discounted rate that’s available to project owners and contractors. Also, remember the IRMI Conference Guarantee. You can request a registration fee refund if you don’t get your money’s worth from the CRC.
Invest in yourself and your construction business when you attend the 2018 IRMI Construction Risk Conference. It’s good for business.
Employee theft, fraud and embezzlement can cause serious financial and reputation damage to your company. Implement several safety measures as you prevent employee theft and protect your business.
Review Your Hiring Practices
Start with honest employees, and you could reduce your theft risk. Consider implementing the following pre-employment checks for all employees, particularly those who work with finances, confidential data or inventory.
- Criminal history of theft, fraud or violence.
- Civil history of fraud, collections or restraining orders.
- Driver’s license report of serious or numerous violations.
- Education verification of degrees and certifications from accredited institutions.
- Employment verification of positions, length, performance, reasons for leaving, and eligibility for rehire.
Utilize Internal Controls
Prepare for the possibility of theft with policies and procedures that limit this risk.
- Separate duties – Place different employees in charge of transaction processing and recording.
- Control access – Only authorized employees should have access to accounting systems and physical and financial information and assets.
- Authorize control policies – Develop a secure process for initiating, authorizing, recording, and reviewing financial transactions and inventory.
- Update security – Install security cameras, engrave “do not duplicate” on keys to sensitive information, and change locks and security codes when cleared employees leave.
Perform Impartial Audits
In addition to regular audits, hire impartial parties to conduct random audits. Examine financial, inventory and other records as you encourage employees to resist temptation.
Create a Positive Work Environment
When your work environment supports collaboration, fairness, and recognition and implements clear policies, organizational structure, and communication, your employees will probably remain honest. They will feel goodwill toward the company and may be less likely to commit theft and jeopardize the supportive, friendly and healthy environment.
Educate Your Employees
Partner with your employees to avoid and prevent theft. They should know your company’s internal controls, conduct and ethics policy, and discipline process. Ask new employees to review these documents and sign a form indicating they’ve done so, and review the policies at least annually.
Use an Anonymous Reporting System
Equip employees, clients and vendors with the power to report suspicions or proof of theft, fraud or embezzlement. An anonymous reporting system protects your staff while giving you valuable information that protects your company.
Investigate all Theft Reports
Demonstrate that you take theft seriously when you investigate every theft report you receive. The investigation should be thorough, prompt and transparent.
Purchase Adequate Insurance
Commercial crime insurance protects your business as it covers financial losses and liability. Your insurance agent can help you purchase the right insurance coverage and adequate policy limits.
Protect your company from employee theft when you implement several security measures. They can reduce your theft, fraud and embezzlement risk.
On Thursday, Aug. 29, 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service announced that salmonella-tainted chicken caused at least 17 illnesses and one death.
Reported illnesses ranged from Sept. 25, 2017, to June 4, 2018, but the agencies didn’t begin their investigation until June. The investigation was launched after the New York State Department of Health said several of those who have become ill reported eating kosher chicken. When they were asked what specific kosher chicken brand they ate, they reported it was Empire Kosher brand.
At this time, the CDC isn’t advising against eating Empire Kosher brand chicken. There also haven’t been any recalls issued. Instead, they issued a public health alert on Aug. 24 out of an “abundance of caution.”
What You Can Do
Salmonella is a bacteria that causes intestinal illness. If you experience the following symptoms, seek medical attention for possible salmonella infection:
- Diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps
- Symptoms beginning 12 to 72 hours after suspected ingestion
- Symptoms lasting four to seven days
The CDC recommends doing the following to reduce your risk of contracting salmonella:
- Do not eat raw or undercooked eggs, poultry or meat.
- Avoid cross-contamination of foods. Keep uncooked meats separate from produce, cooked foods and ready-to-eat foods.
- Wash hands, cutting boards, counters, knives and other utensils thoroughly after handling uncooked foods.
- Always wash hands before handling food and between handling different food items.
An extensive survey of more than 4,000 low-wage workers in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City by the National Employment Law Project (NELP) reached these conclusions:
- More than one in four workers surveyed (26%) were paid less than minimum wage.
- Among these workers, 16% were underpaid by more than one dollar per hour.
- More than three in four (76%) workers who worked overtime were not paid for their time. The average worker had put in 11 hours that were either underpaid or not paid at all.
- Women and foreign-born workers were victimized more than anyone else.
- The average wage theft was 15% of earnings.
Additional violation categories included:
- Meal breaks
- Pay stubs
- Illegal deductions
- Illegal employer retaliation
- Workers Compensation violations
It is hard to balance this economic suffering with the fact some executives are making tens of millions of dollars during a failing economy. You don’t have to be of any political persuasion to realize that something’s out of whack. Not only do these employers deprive good people of a fair day’s pay, they’re also at war with companies who strive to grow their business the right way; perhaps even going above the call and actually empowering their workers rather than oppressing them. If we can fight overseas to assure basic human rights, we should be able to do the same here.
For more information on the survey, click here.
OSHA recently developed a standard for confined spaces in the construction industry (29 CFR 1926 Subpart AA). These spaces can present conditions that are immediately dangerous to your workers’ lives or health if not properly identified, evaluated, tested and controlled. As a result, preparing to respond to an accident in a confined space is just as important as training workers to enter them.
One provision of the standard requires employers to develop and implement procedures for summoning rescue and emergency services in permit-required confined spaces. Any employer who relies on local emergency services for assistance is required to meet the applicable requirements of the OSHA standard.
However, not all rescue services or emergency responders are trained or equipped to conduct rescues in confined spaces. When you identify an off-site rescue service, it is critical that the rescuers can protect your employees. The emergency services should be familiar with the exact site location, the types of permit-required confined spaces and the necessary rescue equipment.
Pre-planning for a rescue will ensure that the emergency service is capable, available and prepared to save your workers.
Before the start of any rescue operation, you must evaluate prospective emergency responders, and select one that has the following traits:
- Adequate equipment for rescues, such as the following:
- Atmospheric monitors
- Fall protection
- Extraction equipment
- Self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) for the particular permit-required confined space
- The ability to respond and conduct a rescue in a timely manner based on the site conditions, and the capability to conduct a rescue if faced with potential hazards specific to the space. These hazards may include the following:
- Atmospheric hazards
- Flooding or engulfment
- Poor lighting
- Chemical hazards
- The ability to notify you in the event that the rescue team becomes unavailable.
To ensure the safety of your workers, you must take a proactive role in securing the services of emergency responders. This includes finding the most efficient way of contacting emergency responders, conducting a tour of the project site with them and communicating any changes made to the site before a rescue becomes necessary.
Communicating With Emergency Responders
Talking with emergency responders about the hazards they might encounter during a rescue will assist in preparing for the situation. The following are some questions responders should be able to answer when you request their services:
- Are you able to respond and conduct a rescue in a timely manner based on the site conditions?
- Do you have the appropriate equipment for response and rescue?
- Are you prepared for the hazards identified at the project site?
- Are you aware of the exact location of the work site? This includes information on access routes, gates, site plans and GPS coordinates.
- Can you visit the site and hold a practice rescue?
- What is the best way to contact you? How would I communicate any changes to site conditions throughout the project?
- Could other emergencies or group training preclude you from responding, and how will that be communicated?
Complying with OSHA’s new standard will protect your workers and save you from costly penalties. Contact us today at 831-661-5697; we can provide you with our comprehensive resource, “Permit-required Confined Spaces in Construction Program and Training Materials.”