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Risk in Context

Three risk mitigation steps amid threats of terrorism at shopping centers

POSTED BY Jeffrey Alpaugh Hétfő, 27 Április 2015

Recent threats by terrorists have cited as targets shopping centers across the globe, serving a sober reminder to shopping center operators, retailers, and others to take steps to protect their people (including employees and customers), environment, assets and reputation from such threats. In a video released on February 21, 2015, a militant group based in Somalia called for attacks on shopping centers in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and France.

The deadliest politically motivated attack on a shopping center occurred in September 2013 in Nairobi, Kenya. Over four days, armed assailants killed at least 67 people and wounded more than 175, according to news reports.

Regardless of the motivation, a violent attack represents a chilling prospect for any organization. With little or no warning, an attack can cause significant harm to employees, customers, organizations’ operations, and reputations.

Here are three steps your organization can take now to prepare.

Build robust emergency response and crisis management plans
Your organization should have well-tested emergency response and crisis management frameworks in place. Plans should be developed and teams should be identified and appropriately trained. Where possible links to relevant stakeholders, including local law enforcement and your human resources staff should be made. Among other topics, these plans should:

  • Identify how information is reported and assessed, and via what channels, this will ensure that the necessary people are informed and decisions can be taken in a timely manner.
  • Provide guidance on how to execute a response, including roles and responsibilities, where the command and control center will be etc.
  • Address how communication will take place, including with employees, family members, corporate headquarters, law enforcement, third parties, media organizations etc.
  • Determine strategies for locking down and/or evacuating all employees, members of the public and other third parties that may be present.
  • Ensure employees know what to expect from law enforcement or other first responders in an emergency.
  • Define expectations for corporate level teams, including crisis communications, humanitarian assistance, and recovery.

Be prepared to handle the aftermath
You should be ready to assist employees, customers, and others after a violent event. For example, you may wish to provide counseling to injured and affected employees, customers, and their families. Meanwhile, effective community and media relations can help shopping center operators and retailers that fall victim to an attack manage their reputations. This is especially important for organizations with multiple locations – an event at one location can ripple across the enterprise.

Review your insurance program
Shopping center operators, retailers, and others should review their insurance coverage to understand which policies may apply and prepare for any claims. Relevant forms of insurance coverage may include:

  • Workers’ compensation and employers’ liability policies, which should respond in the event of an injury to or death of an employee.
  • General liability coverage, which may respond in the event of an injury to or death of a customer or other third party.
  • Umbrella and excess casualty coverage, which may be triggered depending on the size of a loss and may provide funding for crisis response expenses.
  • Property and business interruption policies, which should respond to any physical property damage.

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