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Focus on Security

By AICC Staff

May 20, 2020

Should I have a camera at every door? Do I need a security officer greeting visitors? Should we conduct active-shooter drills? Do I need visitor badges, alarms, biometric scanners, background checks, crisis response teams? The answer is simple: maybe.

In our work across the country helping very small to very large corporations, government entities, and schools create a more secure workplace, we are often asked these questions. Changes in technology and the number of new products and systems coming to the market can quickly overwhelm leaders who are charged with fostering a reasonably safe and secure environment for employees, visitors, and company assets, while balancing operational needs and budgets.

We have found that sifting through the headlines and sales calls and understanding how to create a program that addresses the unique needs of your company is challenging and can seem so difficult that companies sometimes do not take any action. Even though they may realize that the loading dock door being left open and unmonitored is a vulnerability, it then begs the questions: How about the staff lunchroom exit or the vendor entrance? If I secure the loading dock, don’t I have to secure those doors, too? How will I do that? Is it worth the expense?

The goal of this article is to reassure you that you can provide a secure workplace in a cost-effective manner that fits your operational needs and corporate culture. While no program can guarantee there will never be an incident in your workplace or that you will never suffer a loss, being proactive and engaging in a regular process to evaluate plant security can reduce vulnerabilities, identify potential threats, and provide opportunities to prevent or mitigate loss. And while there are many factors to consider, this article will provide five focus areas that will instantly help you understand your current security program and provide you with potential areas to address in the future.

  1. Access Control
  2. Visitor Management
  3. Security Systems
  4. Policies
  5. Emergency Preparedness

Access Control

Arguably, the most important aspect of your plant security program is how you address physical access and how you secure the facility both during and after hours for those who are not in production 24/7. You can accomplish this a number of ways. First, limit the number of entrances to your facility. In most cases, there is no need for more than two points of entry: one for employees and office staff and another for visitors and vendors.

The primary employee and visitor entrance may need to remain unlocked during office hours to support operational needs. However, even if a reception position exists, in all cases there should be a secondary point of entry for staff. Mechanical or electronic locks can prevent someone from rushing the door and keep out wanderers or perhaps a visitor who enters while no one is at the reception position. This helps to prevent unauthorized entry to both administrative areas and plant operations. While there are literally dozens of additional security systems such as cameras, alarms, and sensors that will complement your program, the first line of defense is detecting and delaying unauthorized entry to the facility.

Visitor Management

Often confused with access control is visitor management. Essential to providing a secure workplace is controlling the movement of those you authorize to enter your facility. While there are countless ways to accomplish this, including human interaction or the use of automated visitor management programs, consider the following options:

  • Scheduling appointments with visitors and vendors.
  • Host-meets-guest policy or escorting.
  • Visitor badges that clearly identify the level of access and expiration of stay.

By controlling the movement of visitors and guests, you limit the opportunity for both foreseeable and unforeseeable challenges related to both safety and security. It allows your employees to focus on their tasks rather than wondering who is walking through their workspace and hallways. Visitor management and accountability are also important when investigating a reported problem, because the collection of visitor identification and record of their stay can help identify or potentially eliminate someone as a witness or victim.

Security Systems

The use of electronic security systems continues to grow in popularity as advances in technology and lower costs make them an increasingly practical option. In most cases, security systems increase facility security, protecting our people and other assets at a lower cost than ever before. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to navigate the many systems and “best-in-class” promotions to identify what is most reasonable for your facility, culture, and budget. Whether security cameras, alarms, badging systems, gunshot detection, public address system—there is no shortage of options. When looking at technology solutions, there are dozens of essential questions to ask before making an investment. Here are few to think about:

  • Does this product create a more secure environment, or is it “security theater”?
  • Has this product or technology been tested and proven?
  • Will this integrate with current systems?
  • Does the product require training of our staff?
  • Who will be responsible for implementation and maintenance?
  • What are recurring costs and life expectancy?

Security systems can help you manage your facility security program in a cost-efficient manner and augment the use of people to create a safer environment; however, it is important to be careful when making investments to ensure the product is reasonable, addresses a need or vulnerability, and is sustainable.

Policies

Adding to the safety and security of your facility is having widely distributed policies that set the expectations for employees, visitors, and vendors. These can include simple policies, from wearing an employee identification badge or not propping doors open, to more complex policies such as reporting unacceptable behavior or establishing an active-threat response. Of course, to be effective, policies must be widely distributed, acknowledged, and most importantly, enforced. I consistently visit facilities covered in signs that read “do not leave door open” while I observe a brick propping the door open. While the use of door alarms and/or cameras can help management address theseit starts with establishing a policy and having a culture of security in which not only managers, but also peers are enforcing these policies.

Emergency Preparedness

Finally, as we are all aware, it is incumbent on our leaders to plan, train, and exercise with employees. We know that any number of emergencies can occur, ranging from a mechanical failure or structural collapse to a plant fire, explosion, or workplace violence. This broad set of scenarios dictates that you must first have emergency procedures for employees to follow, but you must also have an organizational plan that establishes how you respond as an organization and how you lead, organize, communicate, and ultimately recover to normal operations.

Realizing that security is not the core of your business, it is an integral part of your success. If you have concerns, or if you are hearing concerns or complaints from employees, conduct a self-assessment by examining the priority areas addressed here. In fact, even if you do not have concerns, conducting an annual self-assessment can help you identify new or unrealized gaps in your program. Address deficiencies by weighing the degree of organizational risk, and develop a timeline to implement changes. Assign someone to oversee progress and identify, where appropriate, changes required to policies, but be inclusive and ask for volunteers throughout the company to participate in the assessment.


PortraitDan Pascale, CPP, is executive vice president of Margolis Healy and Associates and is a physical security and emergency management expert with more than 25 years of public and private experience.


Pascale was the featured speaker for a recent webinar, COVID-19 and Business Continuity (The Next 90 Days) Webinar. A recording of the webinar can be found at www.aiccbox.org/covid.