Preventing losses: Riots and civil commotions

Around the world, riots and civil disturbances have occurred frequently and have caused considerable damage to company's assets. These incidents also cause partial or total interruption of operations. Adequate preparation to deal with events of this nature can significantly reduce the material and business impact to companies. Is your company ready?

It's important to understand the risks associated with riots and civil commotion, so as to implement the appropriate measures to mitigate losses arising from a potential event.

What are riots and civil commotions?

Riots and civil commotions are events usually resulting from the dissatisfaction or demands of a group of people who, in an often uncontrolled, violent, and destructive way, express frustrations about unmet wishes, according to their perspective.

Usually, riots and civil disturbances are linked to systemic risks. In the vast majority of cases, triggers are difficult to detect in advance. Additionally, with the geographical scope of such occurrences, concretely evaluating the exposure to which a company is subject, is difficult to estimate.

However, it is a fact that properties located in urban areas, tend to be disproportionately affected. Riots and civil disturbances may also occur after large natural hazard events such as floods and hurricanes.

Understanding the hazards of riots and civil commotion

Material damage is the most obvious consequence of acts involving riots and civil commotion.

Consequential damage, which impacts the operational continuity of the business, and therefore causes loss of profits, is also an important concern.

Even without inflicting direct physical damage, riots and disturbances can limit or prevent access to the company’s facilities, causing an interruption to the supply of raw materials or basic utilities, and hampering the flow of finished products, among other things.

Loss prevention measures: preparing for potential riots and civil commotions

Implement an emergency and recovery plan

An emergency and recovery action plan should be implemented in order to anticipate measures to deal with the potential impact of riots and civil disturbances.

It is important to establish a line of direct communication with the police and the fire department. For more details on how to establish emergency and recovery plans, in addition to security measures refer to NFPA 1600 and NFPA 730.

Precautions to take in case of imminent risk of riot and civil commotions

  • Ensure first aid kits and adequate salvage materials are available.
  • Verify property security systems in addition to fire alarm systems are operational.
  • Ensure fire protection systems are operational and protect system pipes and valves if exposed and located close to public roads.
  • Verify windows and façade openings are properly protected.
  • Ensure chains and locks on doors and gates are in good condition.
  • Provide lighting for external building areas at night and implement guard rounds.
  • Park all vehicles inside premises or in protected parking lots.
  • Ensure alternative electricity sources are operational.
  • Prepare to block all access points to the company's facilities.

Additional considerations for industrial plants

  • Observe procedures for safe shutdown and safe restart of process utilities machinery and equipment.
  • Where possible, keep a few essential maintenance personnel on premises before, during and after civil disturbances take place to deal with unforeseen complications with equipment.
  • Keep members of emergency organization alert and ready to act in case of any abnormality.
  • Protect pipes, ducts and valves connected to process or utility supply equipment.
  • Relocate or protect mobile equipment if near potential demonstration routes. Pay special attention to vinyl canvas or inflatable warehouses constructed of light combustible materials.   

After the occurrence of riots and civil commotion

In case of damage to property, report what happened to the authorities having jurisdiction. When entering the affected area, take due care, as the integrity of buildings and structures may be compromised.

Conduct an initial assessment and document damage found.

  • Consider that access to facilities may be impaired by damage to property, public roads or interdiction by authorities.
  • Contact authorities and report what happened.
  • Assess condition of buildings and structures prior to entering.
  • When entering facilities that have been trespassed or vandalized, use appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and always be accompanied.
  • Stay away from potential hazards and unstable areas which might be at risk of structural collapse.
  • Ensure a smoking ban is in effect for all areas.
  • Activate business contingency and recovery plan if necessary.

Begin cleaning and repair once security of areas, buildings, equipment and structures have been verified.

  • Check fire protection systems are in good operating condition, immediately repair any damages.
  • Start salvaging activities for raw materials, in-process and finished product storage, equipment.
  • Segregate damaged storage and equipment from those that can be salvaged.
  • Establish repair priorities – focus on repairing and maintain integrity of roofs, doors, gates, external walls, access control equipment.
  • Before restarting operations, evaluate if dangerous processes can be safely restarted.
  • For recovery and repair work that generate heat or sparks, use a formal hot work permit system.
  • Avoid accumulation of combustible materials and debris inside buildings.

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