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Workplace Security: Expecting the Unexpected

There’s nothing new about perils in the workplace. But business expert and motivational speaker John Di Frances says it takes a new mindset to accept that the dangers facing workers today are more complex and potentially far more dangerous. He says that accepting
those dangers means addressing security concerns at the very highest level of an organization, and not just those that appear to be obvious targets.

From deranged employees armed with weapons to the threat of mass terrorism, there’s no way to guard against every possibility, Di Frances says. “To believe that we can make the workplace completely safe is to deny reality. There will always be insufficient resources available to be committed for security purposes to make this dream possible.” Even if such protections were possible, they would be restrictive and difficult to live with.

Ruffling Feathers

What does work, he says, is to integrate security into how businesses operate, rather than see it as an add-on service. For example, are security functions included in an organization’s strategic planning activities and addressed in policy and programs? Probably not, Di Frances says, unless the facility is a nuclear power plant. In most public companies, new corporate initiatives are reviewed by the legal department before they are publicly announced. “But who with the requisite knowledge and experience speaks at the executive level to your organization’s specific concerns of safety and security? In most organizations, no one,” Di Frances says.

Too often, companies build new facilities, design new processes, and enter new marketplaces, considering security-related issues only as an afterthought. Di Frances says that needs to change, adding that “complacency feathers” need to be ruffled for good. Referring to the events of September 11, 2001, he says the lesson to be learned is not that acts of terror are possible, “but rather that they have emerged as part of the fabric of life worldwide.” Executives must recognize that even more catastrophic events are possible, as are the long-term effects of economic disruption they cause.

It’s Not About Paranoia

For Di Frances, making a commitment to workplace security does not mean engaging in paranoia. He recommends creating an organizational awareness that starts with top leaders and extends to every aspect of an operation. That means establishing systems to identify and deter everything from maliciously planted computer programs to unstable employees. It can include specialized screening of job candidates and specialized supervisor training to heighten awareness and teach conflict resolution.

The bottom line: Risks are not likely to disappear; face the new reality and plan for it.

Security Checklist

Workplace security is a long-term proposition. How much are you doing? This checklist may help you assess your readiness, and what you need to do to become and remain prepared.

  • Do you have written policies covering employee theft, workplace violence, drug trafficking, and other criminal activities that might occur in the workplace?
  • Do you check references and conduct background checks when hiring new employees?
  • Are employees told to report any strangers they see in the facility or on company property?
  • Are employees instructed never to lend their security badge, keys, access cards, etc. to anyone?
  • Do you use surveillance cameras to monitor high-risk areas of your facility, such as loading docks, warehouses, and outdoor storage areas?
  • Are keys and access codes or cards given only to company employees and only to employees who need them to gain access to their work area(s)?
  • Are keys, access cards, and ID badges recovered when employees leave the company?
  • Are locks and codes changed after any incident of suspicious activity, or when an employee with access to critical areas of information is fired or leaves under strained circumstances?
  • Are computers protected by passwords known only to operators and other authorized personnel?
  • Are all visitors required to sign in and out at a central reception area and escorted to and from their destinations within the facility?
  • Are employees required to enter and leave the facility through assigned entrances and exits?
  • Are staff members trained to identify suspicious packages?
  • Do staff members understand what to do if a suspicious package arrives?

These checklist items apply to nearly every business, regardless of what type it may be. If not the item itself, then most definitely the concept or principle behind it. Being aware of who is doing what, where they are, and being confident they belong there doing what they are doing is really the bottom line in maintaining a secure facility. The measures and procedures inherent in these checklist items are designed to give you the means of controlling access to those who need it, restricting access to those who don’t, while giving you the tools to be as proactive as possible in identifying potential threats before they affect the business.

Categories: Safety, Security
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  1. August 31, 2012 at 12:04 AM

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