Receiving a Suspicious Package at Work

While you may think it’s not a common occurrence, being aware of and knowing what to do with a suspicious package that has been delivered to your business is a vital skill.

It is essential that you and your staff are able to identify a package that may pose a risk, and know what process to follow once you’ve determined that there is a risk.

Threats or acts of terror via the use of packages are becoming quite common.

They are unassuming, easy to transport via other people or companies, and make it simple to target a particular recipient.

The anthrax scare in the United States roughly twenty years ago is one prominent example that still comes to the minds of many when they think of dangerous parcels.

To lessen the risk of suspicious packages, it is crucial to understand how to identify if a package is questionable or not.

The characteristics of a suspicious package

There are particular characteristics that suspicious packages have that you can be aware of to help identify a potential threat.

If a package exhibits any of these signs, do not touch it or attempt to move it.

Keep everyone a safe distance away and report it immediately to the police.

The main things to look out for include:

  • Strange noises, including ticking
  • Strong smells of chemicals or cleaning products
  • Wiring sticking out of the package
  • Extensive postage stamps
  • Poor spelling or writing on the address and name
  • Rough or uneven appearance of the packaging

It’s also important to take the context around the package into account.

For example, packages addressed to prominent or controversial people that are from an unknown sender.

Politicians especially are at a high risk of receiving suspicious or harmful packages, due to the highly emotional and volatile world of politics.

If a package is received from an unknown individual without any obvious explanation, it should be treated as suspicious.

In some cases, terrorists have been known to send harmful packages to random individuals purely to cause panic.

For this reason, random packages with no discernible purpose should raise alarm.

Reporting a suspicious package

If you identify a potentially dangerous package, you will also need to discern whether or not it has been opened.

Suspect packages should never be opened as they may contain toxic or disease-causing compounds, or other harmful substances or elements.

Leave the package alone, establish a perimeter around it to keep others safe, and alert the authorities as soon as possible.

In case the package has been opened, ensure that anyone who has come into contact with the package thoroughly washes their hands and/or goes into a decontamination shower if that’s available in your workplace.

This may extend to other people in the room around the time of opening as well, so be sure to ask the authorities what should be done in this instance.

Once the authorities have arrived, you need to make sure anyone involved in handling the package is available for consultation and updated as to the threat level, if applicable.

Suspicious packages should always be treated carefully and promptly reported in all cases to avoid exposing yourself or anyone else in the workplace to risk or harm.

Even though you may think it’s highly unlikely that your place of business will be targeted by a suspicious package, it is essential to be diligent and on the lookout for the above characteristics, to keep yourself and your workmates safe.


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