Airborne Ranger, Security Professional's Six Safety Questions for a Safer Workplace

In a security forces building, Tinker 72nd Security Forces Squadron military and Department of Defense police train for responding to active shooter scenarios. (Air Force photo by Margo Wright)

Regardless of where you work, you expect to feel safe and you deserve to be protected. Truth is, security decisions are often impacted by what matters most to the bottom line. When budgets are limited, and hard choices must be made, it is important your voice is an informed part of the decision making process.

It doesn't matter if you are a senior manager at your office or a recent graduate interviewing with a prospective employer. Your voice matters. It is never too early, or too late, to be informed about the security situation at your workplace.

Here are six questions to help you learn more:

1. Ask about “Employee Safety Surveys”

An "Employee Safety Survey" is short audit asking employees how they really feel about the safety and security of their workplace. The answers should provide employers with insights into favorable feedback, procedures in need of improvement, as well as areas of new concern. Survey questions should be tailored to your specific organization. They can easily be conducted via online surveys like this one or via electronic document:

2. Ask about the determining factors for when to evacuate and when to shelter-in-place? Who is the decision maker?

The difference between when to evacuate and when to shelter in place is pretty cut and dry. As general rule, if the threat is external to the workplace (high winds, falling trees, severe storms) you stay inside and shelter-in-place where it is safe. Conversely, if the threat is internal to the workplace, (fire, gas leak, active shooter) you should evacuate to the nearest safe-haven. It is very important to not mistake accountability for survivability. When in doubt, the best practice is always to put as much time and distance between you and the threat as possible.

3. Ask when the last security assessment was conducted? Who conducted it? What were the findings? What enhancements were recommended? What actions were taken? When is the next assessment scheduled?

There is often a very wide divide between policy and practice; between what an organization says they can do and what they can actually accomplish. However unlikely it may be for a business to be directly targeted, the reality is that too few businesses have taken any proactive measures to effectively reduce their vulnerability. Business leaders have a responsibility to understand the limitations of antiquated measures and learn as much as they can about the proactive practices required in today’s operating environment.

Photo courtesy of Spencer Coursen, Coursen Security Group

4. Ask if threat assessments are a required part of the employee termination process

The workplace environment is often where a grievance is first initiated, where the ideation that “something could be done” is first conceived, and where the “research and planning” of an attack plan can be easily concealed behind an everyday action. Corporate responsibility may not always extend to those who were fired, but it certainly indebted is to those still hired. The risk of violence by disgruntled and recently terminated employees is a concern every business should take into consideration.

5. Ask if there is a Crisis Management Team

A Crisis Management Team or “CMT” typically includes executive directors, department heads, staff representatives, threat management and media advisors. The CMT’s job is to ensure the certainty of safety by working together to detect the warning signs of concern, table-top “what if” scenarios, and prepare best practices for emergency situations.

6. Ask how you can help

Everyday safety requires the participation of everyone. The goal is to work together to prevent realistic risks from ever becoming a reality. Everyday vigilance is a small price to pay for the liberties and the freedoms which flow so freely from peace.

Spencer Coursen, Airborne Ranger veteran and founder of Coursen Security, is a nationally recognized threat management expert who has an exceptional record of success in the assessment, management, and resolution of threats, domestic and global security operations, investigations, policy authorship, and protective strategy. Follow him on Twitter at @spencercoursen.

-- Sean Mclain Brown can be reached at sean.brown@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @seanmclainbrown.

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