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Office Risk Insights – Threat Prevention and Disaster Response

Preparing for an unforeseen threat or disaster is very difficult, as it is impossible to know the impact such an event could have on your business. Criminal activity, natural disasters and terrorism are all threats to your business, and it is important that you have readiness plans in place to minimise the potential impact of those risks.

Without prior planning, you leave your company open to financial disaster, especially if you are forced to close operations for a period of time. In addition, without a proper plan to cope with a disaster situation, your company may face legal actions from clients, suppliers or employees claiming negligence.

Ensure Proper Security Measures

It is important to protect your facility by assessing your security measures and making improvements where necessary. Though not all security threats can be avoided, some situations can be prevented with appropriate preparation.

  • Advise management and employees to report any suspicious persons or activity in or around the facility.
  • Establish and follow visitor control procedures such as mandatory sign-ins, name badges, escorts, orientation, etc.
  • Survey locks, fences, exterior lights and other physical security devices to ensure that they are in place where needed and in proper operating condition. Establish a monthly inspection of your security perimeter and key protective features of your facility.
  • Pay special attention to areas where you may be storing explosive, flammable or toxic chemicals. These areas should be properly secured and inventoried, with limited hands-on contact of these materials when possible.
  • Evaluate critical locations in your facility for proper security, including the electric, telephone and gas units, building entrances, transformers, outside storage units and computer rooms.
  • If your facility has a security/fire alarm system, make sure it is operating properly and that key personnel know how to arm/disarm it.
  • Make sure that fire suppression systems are regularly inspected and maintained. Also be sure that a sufficient number of trusted personnel know how to activate, operate and shut them down.
  • Closed-circuit television can serve as an excellent crime deterrent, and when the system is equipped with a recorder it can help solve crimes.
  • Review your procedures for issuing facility keys and access cards. At a minimum, keep lists of who has been issued keys/cards and have a procedure for handling a situation when a troubled employee is terminated without returning them.
  • Discuss security with your local authority and police force. They are often very willing to provide information and support to local businesses.
  • Have your local fire service conduct a pre-planned visit to your building. While there, they can identify potential hazards and plan fire suppression priorities.

Disaster Preparation and Response

  • Make sure you discuss terrorism and applicable natural disaster cover with your Sirelark Risk Services representative.
  • Keep copies of insurance policies and other critical documents in a safe and accessible location (eg a fireproof safe).
  • Evaluate which disasters are most likely to occur in your area, remembering to include the possibility for terrorist activity. Make sure you are prepared for all of the risks you identify.
  • Develop a disaster recovery or business continuity plan. If you already have one make sure that it is up-to-date. This entails preparing for anything that disrupts your business operations and planning for a backup option. You may consider identifying backups for essential operations, supply chains, personnel, business functions, data processes and communication channels.
  • Review your policy for off-site backup of EDP records. Ideally these records should be backed up and transmitted or sent off-site on a daily basis.
  • Have telephone call lists available for all key personnel so required staff members can be contacted during non-working hours from any location. Review procedures for notifying employees that your facility is closed. Remind employees that they should never attempt to enter areas that are closed by police or other emergency responders.
  • Consider establishing an alternate method for your phone service if the switchboard becomes unusable (eg forwarding incoming calls to a mobile phone or remote number).
  • Check available emergency supplies such as torches, batteries, emergency generators/fuel, patching materials such as plastic sheeting, duct tape, spare fire extinguishers, first-aid kits, etc.

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The content of this publication is of general interest and is not intended to apply to specific circumstances or jurisdiction. It does not purport to be a comprehensive analysis of all matters relevant to its subject matter. The content should not, therefore, be regarded as constituting legal advice and not be relied upon as such. In relation to any particular problem which they may have, readers are advised to seek specific advice from their own legal counsel. Further, the law may have changed since first publication and the reader is cautioned accordingly. © 2010, 2012-2013 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.

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