Workplace Security and Safety
We all spend a major part of each week in our places of employment and therefore we need to understand workplace security and safety. For the most part employers strive to ensure that our workplaces are safe and that they do not present risks to our personal safety. However, employers may not be able to promise you a risk free workplace. Generally speaking, to eliminate all risks in the workplace, or anywhere for that matter, is not always possible.
In many large corporations staff has come to expect there will be a security presence during work hours, and that the security staff is there to insure that the risks and potential for adverse security incidents are minimal. Yet even in industries that have a security department, and in some cases they have armed security officers, security incidents still occur and in some cases staff have been injured or even killed.
Take the healthcare industry for example. If you did not know this, healthcare is one of the professions with some of the highest rates of workplace violence according to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). In many cases, yet not all, healthcare organizations have security departments that are staffed by well trained security personnel. In fact, there are over 5,700 hospitals in the United States and there is no formal statistics on how many actually have security officers on staff, yet many healthcare workers have been subjected to some level of workplace violence.
To broaden the field even more, employees who exchange money with the public are also in the category of those that are at a higher risk for workplace violence. Consider for a moment that type of employee can be in a number of different industries, many of which have no security personnel on staff to protect the employees.
Regardless of whether or not there is a security department in your organization, there are things that you can do for your own safety and security, and these steps can be effective in the workplace, at home, or while you are on the go.
Know your workplace:
Do you know where all the emergency exits are in your workplace? For example, have you ever taken the time to study their locations and know where the exits will lead to?
Other security tips and recommendations include, but are not limited to:
- Be familiar with the emergency procedures and alarms in your office/business.
- Know how to report a security threat or incident.
- If you handle cash do not leave the cash drawer open and never count cash in the view of the public or customers.
- Report suspicious activity to your supervisor or manager in the absence of security, or call the police yourself.
- Be observant and look at each person that enters your business. Eye contact is essential and verbal greetings also help to put them on notice that they have been noticed.
- If you locate a suspicious item (e.g. unattended backpack or box) know what your responsibility is in reporting such.
- Take security or emergency drills seriously, you want to commit your response to memory so that it is a natural reaction if an emergency presents itself to you.
- Keep your purse, wallet, and other valuables in a secure location such as a locked desk or filing cabinet.
Note: The above are just a few of the many security tips that every employee should know, and are given as an example.
Safety and security often are closely related yet there is a difference. Safety issues in the workplace can involve fire safety, slips and falls, lights not working properly, and many other environmental types of risks.
Lights that are not working may seem like a nuisance to many people, but the lights should be an important part of your workplace security and safety program. Studies have proved that lighting can increase your personal safety and security, and is an important part of a crime prevention strategy. If lights are not working properly, they can result in not only criminal activity but also incidents such as slips and falls.
It is important to report any doors that do not close all the way, or any locks that are both difficult to lock or unlock.
If you observe signs of potential violence in a fellow employee, customers, visitors, or anyone else in the workplace, report this to the appropriate person immediately.
Ensure that you know your company’s emergency plan and what your responsibilities are in the event of an emergency situation.
Reporting Workplace Security and Safety Concerns
It is important that you understand that it is everyone’s responsibility to report all workplace security and safety concerns, risks, incidents, and threats. In many cases management may not be aware of the security risk if no one reports them, so get in the habit of understanding your role and reporting your concerns.
Supervisors or management in general are responsible for documenting, investigating and reporting up through management all complaints, and they should look to identify any gaps in the security plan to their supervisors.
Remember, if even one person in an organization fails to report a security threat it may result in serious injury or loss of life to staff, customers, visitors, or others on the property either at that time or at a future date. Do not be the link that failed in the chain, when in doubt say something. If you see something that does not seem right, report it.