Potential Terrorist's Weapons

Newspapers or magazines are frequently printing headlines that warn about the potential for another terrorist attack. Turn on the television, and it is broadcasting about the most recent bombing. On a daily basis, the world is confronted with the potential for another major terrorist attack; this time, the terrorist may be using NBC agents. Looking back through history, acts of biological and chemical terrorism have been happening for centuries. But seldom have they been used against the workplace and its occupants; that possibility is changing. An understanding of the potential types of weapons that terrorists could use is educational, and it is somewhat reassuring that their use can be mitigated by understanding and planning. When discussing NBC use as weapons against the workplace, it is usually in conjunction with a terrorist-style activity.

Protection from Chemical, Biological, or Radiological Attacks

There are no foolproof ways to prevent the effects of a terrorist attack on the workplace. Also, there is no way to predict which facility might be attacked. But, knowledge of the business or businesses in the vicinity may make it more likely that certain facilities will be targeted for an attack using NBC; this will help determine the risk. If particular businesses or companies are an easy target and have done nothing to act as a deterrent from an NBC attack, then employers are being negligent since it is know that such an attack is a possibility.

Everything in this section assumes that the attack on your facility will use airborne materials that can be injected into the workplace heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system and dispersed throughout the facility. Understanding the systems in your facility and how they operate will allow you to incorporate some of the recommendation in this section, thus better protecting your workplace and its workforce from an NBC attack.

Preventing terrorist access to a targeted facility requires physical security of entry, storage, roof, and mechanical areas, as well as securing access to the outdoor air intakes of the facility's HVAC system. The physical security needs of each workplace should be assessed, as the threat of an NBC attack will vary considerably from workplace to workplace.

Procedures and preventive maintenance schedules should be implemented for cleaning and maintaining ventilation system components. Replacement filters, parts, and so forth should be obtained from known manufacturers and examined prior to installation. It is important that ventilation systems be maintained and cleaned according to the manufacturer's specifications.

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