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Play it safe.

A few years ago, I surveyed a collection storage facility at a museum as part of an assignment to evaluate its physical security. During the survey, I opened all the doors leading out of the storage area. Opening one flimsy wooden door, I found a mechanical equipment room that was not accessible from outside the building. Indeed, it was partially was protected by stout concrete block walls to prevent intrusions. However, in the corner of the mechanical room, directly opposite the flimsy wooden door, was a large high-voltage electrical transformer that served the whole multibuilding site. Though a wire mesh fence encircled the transformer to keep staff from accidentally getting to it. a short circuit could have caused the transformer to explode at any time. Moreover, old high-voltage transformers often contain PCB-contaminated cooling oil. This transformer was at least 50 years old, and no one on the staff knew whether it contained PCBs. The transformer posed a much more significant threat to the physical security of the collection than any thief did, yet no one had recognized the threat in previous security assessments, because security personnel were not trained to detect safety risks, and no one else on staff was responsible for safety. Here was a clear case where a failure to integrate safety and security inspections had led to a vulnerability.

Safety and security functions are often at odds, but they need not be. In fact, companies that properly merge the two responsibilities will gain from the synergy that results.

To be sure, balancing the highly regulated and code-driven safety and fire protection programs with the more performance-based approach common in security programs is a challenge. To integrate safety and security functions successfully, a manager must establish a sound organizational structure, examine problems, identify any overlap between safety and security, choose the right tools for integration, and carefully select and train staff.

Organization. Throughout the integration process, the managers of safety and security will have to work together closely. A merger of safety and security operations will fail without a stable organizational structure.

The best way to ensure that the safety and security functions are coordinated is to have them run within a single department by one manager, If, however, the company has separate directors for security and safety, it should have them report as peers to the same senior manager and receive the same information.

Reporting to separate managers tends to engender distrust between the safety and security heads, and when that happens, the two departments usually end up working at cross purposes. The senior manager responsible for both functions should bring the safety and security department heads together frequently to encourage an open working relationship and to ensure that both understand their relative roles with respect to each other. Security and safety practitioners who head divisions where the two functions are under separate supervision must also be careful to avoid rivalries.

Problems. Once the organizational structure is in place, security managers can begin to identify and understand the site's safety risks. Doing so is especially important if the security director is newly assuming safety duties and has no safety director for guidance. Where the safety function has its own staff, the two directors or teams of safety and security personnel should walk the facility together to sensitize their counterparts to unfamiliar concerns in their respective disciplines.

Potential causes of accidents on site should be the central safety consideration. The team should begin by examining accident trends. The first place to look is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 200 Log, a document in which an employer must list all incidents that have resulted in injuries that meet the OSHA definition for a recordable injury: fatalities, lost workday cases, and injuries that require medical treatment other than simple first aid. In addition, the security manager should examine the file of employee accident reports, giving special attention to those reported to the workers' compensation insurance carrier. All accidents with injuries that require medical treatment, even minor incidents not covered in the OSHA logs, generally are reported to the insurance carder.

The visitor and outside contractor accident report files should be reviewed, as should reports of any accidents that did not require medical treatment or that involved only property damage. This latter category may reveal practices that create the potential for injuries. The overarching goal is to build as complete a picture as possible of the organization's accident history.

The next step is to talk with the person responsible for purchasing insurance. Workers' compensation, property, and general liability insurance carriers usually conduct inspections before renewing policies and may conduct follow-up inspections at intervals during the life of the policy. The resulting inspection reports are excellent gauges of safety conditions over time. These reports typically include the insurer's suggested corrections to any problems.

The local fire inspector's reports are also valuable. They provide important information about past conditions and help identify recurring conditions that need attention. Data from these reports, combined with the reports mentioned earlier, will help the security manager develop a checklist to guide the inspection program and to identify the company's training needs.

Overlap. Companies that take advantage of the natural overlap between security and safety will be able to use staff time more efficiently to benefit both functions. For example, prevention and equipment maintenance are key elements of fire safety, and the security department can play a critical role in both by looking for fire hazards when on daily security patrols and by ensuring that fire safety equipment is in good working order.

A security officer on patrol should visually inspect fire detection and suppression equipment, which may well include conducting tests to verify that systems or devices, such as fire extinguishers, are properly maintained and ready for use. The security department can also play an important role by focusing on the detection and prevention of arson, a major cause of fires.

As the plant emergency response force, security officers should be trained to know where to find sprinkler valves and how to turn them off. Similarly, security staff should respond to fire alarms and have a basic understanding of how the detectors operate.

In addition, if security personnel are charged with coordinating evacuation in an emergency, they can make evacuation plans that balance security and safety concerns. They may, for example, be able to limit the number and location of fire exits to facilitate both safe evacuation and security monitoring.

Communication. The architect designing the fire emergency egress system and the security professional responsible for protecting the facility often do not communicate. An integrated approach to safety and security can ensure communication between those concerned with emergency egress and protection. This early collaboration can resolve conflicts while plans are still on the drawing board.

Common ground between safety and security can also be found in programs to control hazardous materials. Consider, for instance, a manufacturing plant that uses cleaning supplies, paints, solvents, and other products containing potentially hazardous materials. Security officers often are among the first responders to a chemical spill. These staff members should, therefore, be familiar with OSHA regulations, and they should be trained as first responders to such incidents.

In addition, the plant may wish to dispose of hazardous waste such as expended solvents, used paint thinner, and old cleaning fluids. These materials are subject to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which also requires written response procedures and training. The security manager should have appropriate internal procedures and a related training program for responding to spills to protect the officers, other employees, visitors, and the facility, and to make sure proper notification and reporting procedures are followed.

Tools. The next task is to decide how to accomplish the program objectives. Resources that will help include staff, policies and procedures, and hardware, such as alarm systems, CCTV, and computers. Most tasks require a combination of tools, and those selected often serve more than one purpose. For example, CCTV cameras are excellent for monitoring remote areas, such as parking garages, and usually are considered a vital part of intrusion detection and access control systems. Less obvious is that a camera is useful for a quick evaluation of a fire alarm.

One remote facility I surveyed, for example, could only be reached via a thirty-minute boat ride. My team, therefore, decided to install a sophisticated CCTV system. The building, itself irreplaceable, contained a collection of priceless, easy-to-remove artifacts. No one guarded the site after closing time, nor was the headquarters building - located on the mainland - staffed after hours. Response time to an incident could be 45 minutes or longer, and without video surveillance, the responder would be at sea - literally and figuratively - until reaching the site.

While theft of artifacts was a serious issue, fire, which could destroy both the building and the collection, trumped all other concerns, especially since the fire boats necessary to fight the blaze would not be summoned until someone confirmed a fire at the facility. Transmitting CCTV images off the site via microwave made it possible for emergency response personnel to evaluate any alarms from the headquarters building and plan an appropriate response.

It is important to remember that technology must be appropriate to the needs of the situation. A few years ago I conducted a survey at a remote historic attraction where staff proudly showed me their state-of-the-art fire alarm system, I asked about the fire department response time and was assured that the local volunteer department could be there in 15 minutes.

The facility, located on just a few acres of land, included a dozen closely spaced wooden buildings with wood shingle roofs. The site, situated in a windy, semi-arid environment, had no automatic suppression system, because the cost of installing such a system was deemed too high. Given the reaction time of the detectors (two to three minutes at best), the fifteen-minute fire department response time, the combustibility of the buildings, the proximity of the buildings to one another, and the omnipresent wind, the fire detection system at this facility was wholly inadequate.

Staffing. Staff selection and training must be given a high priority. The number of personnel needed is, in part, a function of how well they are trained. A few highly qualified people can accomplish more than a much larger but less well-trained staff, though sheer numbers are important for covering vast amounts of territory. Training comes at a cost in both time and money, of course, but increased efficiency can justify the expense.

It is important to identify training needs early on and to develop a training program that satisfies them. Here again, the time to integrate the training package is in the planning stage. The security and safety manager should determine what the law requires, what topics need to be covered to maximize employee efficiency, and how much time and money it will take to train employees and to keep them up to speed.

Perhaps the most important part of safety training is officer buy-in, starting with strong emphasis from the security director. When I started at my current position, security personnel had no training in safety. My first act was to abolish one officer position and create a training officer slot in its stead. This person would be responsible for preparing varied, engaging, and comprehensive safety training programs. Officers immediately knew that training would henceforth be a priority.

Training is a process, not an event, and like any other effective program, it needs goals and objectives as well as performance measures. Effective training programs require constant evaluation and revision. Some training must be repeated on a regular basis - sometimes to keep skills fresh and sometimes because the law requires it.

In addition, all training methods are not equally effective for all topics. Asbestos familiarization lends itself to a lecture and slide display format. Firearm training requires time on the firing range.

My training officer and 1 constantly tinker with the training programs to keep officers engaged even if they have worked at the site for years. After each training session, officers must pass a written test on the topic.

To further engage officers in learning about safety, my department has created a program to identify people with specific safety interests and expertise, such as CPR or first aid. If these officers have the proper qualifications, they instruct the other officers in their field of expertise. This authority vests them with management's trust, enhances their self-confidence, and motivates them to train staff effectively. It also spurs other officers to identify and develop their own interests and skills. It may save training costs in the long run.

My officers must also participate in a safety instruction program I run with a local community college. Officers are required to attend this course on fire sciences and related subjects. They are rewarded with overtime pay for doing so.

How effective has safety training been? It's impossible to assign a cost savings to our program, but one objective measure is our property insurance rate. Since the training program began, that rate has decreased steadily, and our property insurance rate is now one of the lowest in the industry. Some of the drop in the insurance premium can he attributed to market swings, but rates have dropped even in markets favorable to insurers, which attests to the success of the program.

Overintegration. Sometimes integration can go too far. In my opinion, this happens when, for instance, a company tries to combine alarm and building management functions into a single system. The main problem is the difference in response level. Building management people may see a fire or intrusion detection as "just another alarm" for which they are responsible, such as humidity and heat control alerts: it can be difficult for these operators to switch mind-sets depending on what type of alarm goes off. The same is true for security officers who must monitor building controls', in time. the sheer volume of minor alarms lulls the officer out of the proper state of readiness needed for when a major alarm occurs.

If safety and security are not synonymous. they can at least be brought into synergistic coexistence. Appropriate integration of protection programs can make a solid contribution to the organization's long-term success by simplifying reporting, eliminating unnecessary conflicts between protection programs, and making better use of available company resources.

Danny L. McDaniel, CPP, CSP (certified safety professional), is the director of security and safety for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Williamsburg, Virginia. He is a member of ASIS and a past chairman of the ASIS Standing Committee on Museum, Library, and Cultural Property Protection.
COPYRIGHT 1999 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:integration of safety and security functions
Author:McDaniel, Danny L.
Publication:Security Management
Date:Jun 1, 1999
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