Employers should have robust plans in place to deal with terrorism, but maintain a sense of proportion

Although the threat is genuine, it can be contained, according to speakers at a seminar in London, hosted jointly by AIRMIC and Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters (CILA)

A range of terrorism, government, police, loss adjusting and risk management experts spoke at the half day event in April. All agreed on the need for businesses to be prepared for terrorist risks, at the same time as they rejected the more cataclysmic scenarios described in parts of the press.

Simon Sole, managing director of Exclusive Analysis, said there was a real possibility of nuclear weapons getting into the wrong hands. "Much of the nuclear equipment in the former USSR is unaccounted for or insecurely stored," he said. "Nuclear materials are widely available."

He went on to reassure the audience that, although the consequences of this and other types of terrorist event could be tragic, they would be on a smaller scale than people might expect. "We can gather intelligence to understand the scope and nature of the risk," he added.

Haroona Franklin of the Government Decontamination Service said organisations should develop, test and maintain up-to-date plans to deal with possible terrorist events.

Nick Chown, director of risk management at the Metropolitan Police and past AIRMIC chairman, said business continuity planning should be at the heart of any organisation's preparation for terrorism.