Workplace Security 101: How to Ensure a Safe Environment

In the aftermath of the recent shooting in Tucson, Arizona that left six people dead and 13 people wounded, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, security has become a top concern in Congress as well as among the general public.

The tragedy, one among many publicized acts of violence in recent years, brings to light an important aspect of the daily lives of professionals, CEOs, and business owners–workplace safety. Whether it’s  a criminal act from an outside entity, a terror threat, or an on-the-job incident, protecting one’s physical well-being at work has become top priority. talked with Tim Horner, a managing director at Kroll, a New York-based global risk consulting company, on the first steps to take to ensure your company is prepared to handle workplace violence and other safety breaches.

Take into account the type, size and resources of your company so your security plan fits relevant risks. “There are different types of risks associated with different types of businesses,” Horner says. Depending on the type of business, the levels of risk vary–from robberies to a client posing a criminal threat to an employee’s menacing spouse or acquaintance.

Have up-to-date policies and procedures to handle possible risks. “Understand where a threat may come from and look at policy and procedures you can put in place to mitigate that risk,” Horner says.

Bring in a third party to help properly assess risks and help develop or tweak your plan. It’s a good  idea to have a professional such as a security consultant or lawyer who is knowledgeable about workplace violence and how to deal with it, Horner suggests. Some local police departments also offer insight and resources on workplace security.

Communicate openly with workers about policy and procedures.“This information needs to be conveyed clearly to employees at all levels in the company,” Horner says. “They must now how an act of violence  is reported, who handles it, and how it will be managed.”

Train employees how to handle crisis situations or spot red flags. Employees should be trained to know what to look for and what to do if violence occurs, Horner says. “There’s no profile of a person who might become violent, but there are changes that you can observe, ” Horner adds, such as unstable behavior, change in co-worker interaction, excessive aggression, verbal threats or talks of firearms. Some companies have a workplace violence or crisis management team composed of key staff and executive members as well as security professionals. With proper procedure, these behaviors would be reported to and handled by the appropriate person such as a supervisor or human resources professional.

Put the proper building security elements in place. What are your general security plans for the location? How would employees evacuate in the case of an emergency or violence? What is the procedure for visitor admission? These are all important things to consider in reference to the physical security of your business, Horner says.

For more on securing your office or business:

When IT Security Equals Profits