Contributed Column

The Sense of Security

Most of us spend almost a third of our lives at work each week; many people work even longer hours. Even considering errands, social activities, and running around with the kids, we may very well spend more of our waking hours at work than we do at home. Much like at home, we develop a sense of security about our workplaces. At home, we think about locking the doors, participating in Neighborhood Watch programs, and installing alarms. Should equal thought be given security in the workplace?

In 2008, 921 violent crimes occurred in Vermont places of work, according to the Vermont Crime Information Center (VCIC). These included assaults, robberies, kidnappings, and weapons offenses. Vermont has one of the lowest violent crime rates in the country. Its rate of 1.48 violent crimes per 1,000 people seems like comforting odds. Unless you are one of the 900 people for whom the odds catch up.

In 2008 there were 10 accidental workplace deaths in Vermont, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Vermont full-time workers logged almost 300,000 hours with only 5.4 work-related injuries or illnesses per 100 workers. Even with these low numbers, many training hours were spent learning important skills such as CPR, lockout procedures, and proper lifting techniques.

On August 3, 2010, eight people were killed and two wounded by a single gunman in Manchester, Conn., after he was forced to resign for internal theft.

How much training time do you devote to workplace violence safety?

There are numerous things you can do in your workplace to increase your safety and reduce your risk of being a victim of violence. Here are five to remember for keeping you and your employees safe at work.

Control access into your business

Most businesses unlock their doors in the morning and don’t lock them until night, but by doing this, you can’t control who enters and leaves. Instead, leave only one door open. Lock and alarm all other doors, and have video cameras that record motion set up to record anyone who approaches the doors.

Greet everyone quickly

Have someone at the entrance to greet people as they enter your business. A person who is able to enter your business and wander around unchallenged may be able to find a victim in a position where help is inaccessible. Greeting a person and arranging for an escort through the building will deter opportunistic crimes and let your visitor know he or she is being watched.

Be able to summon help quickly

A quiet, rapid method for getting help, such as a silent alarm button, is crucial for a greeter. A code word over a PA system or two-way radio is good, but it should be something simple and practiced regularly so employees are familiar with what to do. Most alarm systems can be set up to contact the police with just a button-push to speed up the response for help.

Trust your instincts

If something appears out of place, it probably is. Be curious about things that don’t seem right. Tell someone else about what is bothering you, and then figure out the best way to check it out. Don’t just look into something without telling someone else where you are.

Always be alert to your surroundings

Police officers train to practice “what-if” scenarios in their heads, constantly rehearsing what they would do based on the conditions and changes in the environment around them. Everyone should practice this whether at home, in the workplace, or traveling.

You will be able to react faster, as a person or as an organization, if you have spent time preplanning what to do in an emergency. •

Douglas Babcock, president of Cygnus Security Consulting in Jeffersonville, has an extensive background in public safety and a master of business administration. He specializes in safety and security solutions for small to medium businesses.
He can be reached at 730-4066 or
doug@cygnusvt.com; his Web address is www.cygnusvt.com.

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