Posted in BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, Package Delivery, Workplace Safety

How to stop Tailgating (Unauthorized Entry) at Your Building

Is your security protocol in place to protect against tailgators?

As the NFL football playoff season enters a fever pitch, you might consider hosting a tailgate party before heading into the stadium for the big game. And I definitely suggest doing so. First things first…stock up on beef jerky. But tailgating of an entirely different sort may be putting your property at risk. Even if the security team at your building has things well in hand with turnstiles, documented access, PIN numbers or visitor badges, the practice of quickly slipping in behind someone who has passed through screening is called tailgating and is a very common technique for breaching building security. Is your building at risk?

The threat might start out innocently enough—with an employee opening a door and thoughtfully holding it open for others, or security personnel naively trusting and allowing entry of uniformed workers who are carrying heavy packages. But these seemingly common courtesies could put your company in harm’s way. So the way to protect your property is to develop, adopt and stringently adhere to anti-tailgating strategies. Or you could always hire a guard dog, which is my personal recommendation.

At RJWestmore, we have come up with some simple suggestions for preventing tailgaters, built on the acronym “STOP TAILGATERS.”

Security First—the first step to prevent unauthorized entry to your building is to proactively develop a comprehensive security plan for your property. My wife and I have a plan in place which includes barking at unwelcome visitors.

Teach your tenants and employees the risk of ignoring security protocols. If they understand the tailgating can expose your building to domestic violence, theft, sabotage, and terrorism, they might be more inclined to follow the rules.

Open your doors only to people who have valid IDs and associated PINS (where necessary), or stop to sign in as visitors.

People who are already allowed access to your building might also present security risks if admitted to every area of the property. Since not all threats are external, restrict access for subpopulations for high-security areas such as laboratories, pharmacies, operating or equipment rooms and computer centers. You may want also want to restrict and track access to valuable equipment, sensitive files, copy machines and areas containing toxic chemicals. You also might want to restrict access to the kitchen if your visitors are of the four-footed variety.

Tailgating not only affects safety but building management practices as well. If your HVAC or lighting system is tied to occupancy, an influx of unexpected bodies could affect energy-spend.

Allow flexibility in your plan. The security system that is right for you will depend on the specific entry points you wish to secure, location of the entrance, the reason for controlling access to it and the flexibility of your budget.

Inaccurate headcounts during emergencies can lead to occupants unknowingly being left behind or emergency personnel needlessly searching for people who were never on the premises. So make sure that the system you adopt keeps accurate counts.

Leave security to professionals. If you have a security system in place and believe that your building is important enough to protect, why would you allow unauthorized access to it? For a fail-safe system, hire a team of pros.

Guards might be worth the expense. While you might be inclined to cut personnel costs by eliminating security guards, you should consider a simple cost-benefit analysis to decide whether full-time security guards might be right for you. Guards can visually confirm badges match the people seeking to gain entry. Guard dogs are always an option, though they might not be able to understand the subtleties of customer relations.

Anti-tailgating programs are most effective if they are multi-pronged. So consider adopting more than one strategy for keeping tailgaters at bay.

Timothy McVeigh was granted access to the Oklahoma City building he blew up long before he committed the crime. So, when it comes to granting access to unauthorized personnel, better safe than sorry. Canine crimes are not usually premeditated. Just sayin’.

Everyone in your building should be aware of the safekeeping culture. So consider holding safety seminars or providing materials that clearly communicate your security system.

Risks to building safety frequently result in crimes carried out by someone you didn’t even know was in your building. So make sure your security team understands their role as gatekeepers.

Smart cards house multiple credentials on one card. Consider issuing these to building tenants, employees and visitors to electronically track traffic. For dogs, you might consider issuing Smart Snacks instead.

Tailgating strategies are easy to retrofit and complement most existing security systems. So adopt those systems that will work best for you and then build a culture that encourages adherence to the plan. Even if you have the best security system on the market, your safety measures will fail if occupants don’t buy in.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJ Westmore, Inc. Our new Version 2.5 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information.

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Posted in BE SAFE, Building Evacuation, Disaster Preparedness, Emergency Evacuations, High-Rise Buildings, Package Delivery, Workplace Safety

Happy (and safe) Holiday Season

Are you prepared for holiday-related hazards?

As a building owner or manager, the holidays are a time to spruce up your building with decorations and host fun events. This always reminds me of the Charlie Brown Christmas, when Snoopy decorates his doghouse. That pooch is a talented actor! Of course, you will want your tenants to enjoy themselves at holiday get-togethers. However, you will also be wise to keep an eye on safety. Since we are committed to helping property managers and owners BE SAFE, we would like to devote this blog post to offering several key tips to help you manage holiday mail and deliveries, food, parties and decorations!

Mail and Deliveries:

  • As the volume of parcels increases, it becomes more likely the mailroom staff might miss suspicious packages. Do a refresher course with these individuals regarding how to spot mail that looks out of place. For tips about what to tell employees, check out the resources available through the Department of Homeland Security. Or you can always call in your trusty canine. Our noses are made for safety inspections.
  • With more deliveries in and out of your building, your security staff could become lax in the enforcement of proper protocols. If all deliveries need to be screened at a central location, don’t make exceptions for people who are “just” bringing flowers or honey-baked hams or pork chops. Terrorism or the actions of disgruntled individuals are always possible. So every situation demands vigilance.

Holiday Food:

  • Practice good hygiene when handling group lunches. Don’t allow employees to eat food such as lunch meats and cheese that has been sitting out for hours. In fact, better to just give all of that food to the dog…just to be safe. Observe the two-hour rule and move food quickly to a refrigerator or throw it away. A tenant’s business could become crippled if half of the employees get food poisoning.
  • If tenants are preparing food on site, be sure they follow safe food-handling rules such as avoiding cutting board cross-contamination and making sure they frequently wash their hands.
  • Carefully inspect food-based deliveries such as chocolate-covered fruit or cakes. Be sure that packages arrive from reputable vendors and provide identification and that delivery personnel arrived in clearly marked vehicles. And I’m not talking about the kind of marking that Fido or Rover provide.

Holiday Parties:

  • If you are serving alcohol at your holiday party, be sure the amounts are strictly limited in order to prevent individuals from acting inappropriately or attempting to drive. Provide shuttle buses or cab drivers to ensure everyone arrives home safely and you and your tenants avoid potential legal problems.
  • Be sure your party venue is coded to accommodate attendees and has clearly identified emergency exits. (This should be true not just for parties but at all times.)
  • Consider giving safety-oriented gifts such as arm rests for heavy computer users or a quality flashlight for employees. Then again, I think the best gift idea is a giant bone. It’s what I’m giving my wife and JR.

Decorations:

  • Advise tenants who want to hang strings of lights to use a power strip and to keep warm lights away from paper sources. Extension cords must be completely taped to the ground to avoid tripping-related incidents. Forbid the use of candles or lanterns at all times.
  • Turn off decorations at night.
  • Decorations such as mistletoe and holly berries can be poisonous to pets or children. Encourage the use of man-made decorations in these cases, instead. Vote “no” on operation Holly Berry. When it comes to decorations, plastic can be a dog’s best friend.
  • Instruct tenants not to place large decorations in stairwells or on emergency exit signs. They should also make sure they leave sprinklers and smoke alarms uncovered, so as not to interfere with operation.
  • Live Christmas trees need water so they don’t become dried out and pose fire hazards.

All of our safety tips are intended to increase holiday cheer! It’s important to embrace the holidays and let your tenants, visitors and employees have fun—as long every individual and puppy, as well as your property, remain intact.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJ Westmore, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Posted in BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, Health & Welfare, Package Delivery, Safety at Home, Terrorism, Travel, Uncategorized, Version 2.0

The Aftermath of the Raid in Pakistan

drawing of Osama Bin Laden
How to Remain Vilgilant Following Osama Bin Laden's Death.

After the raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan and his subsequent death, some law enforcement officials and property owners are concerned about the threat of new terrorist attacks. Congratulations are in order for the brave soldiers who risk their lives overseas. But are we any more at risk than we were prior to Bin Laden’s death?

Many residents of the United Kingdom consider a new attack to be likely. In fact, the U.K. Metropolitan Police Commissioner warned that: “Vigilance should be our watchword.”

In the United States, the presence of security personnel has been beefed up in numerous locations. Still, despite the perceived risk of potential terrorist repercussions, the official terror threat level in the United States was not elevated following the announcement of Bin Laden’s death. (The new alert system differs from the former multi-color-coded system in that it only offers two-threat levels— “elevated” and “imminent.”) My alert system gets to “code red” when I’m out of kibble!

Potential risks might result:

  • A branch of al-Qaida in Yemen or some other disconnected country might be the source of the next attack.
  • The next threat might come from a lone individual who sympathizes with al-Qaida, such as occurred with the Fort Hood shooter, who some contend was linked to terrorist groups.
  • Terrorist cells in North Africa have either loose or no affiliation with al-Qaida and have many connections to ethnic groups in the United States.
  • A broader risk is a decreased emphasis on funding for anti-terrorism training due to the perception of the “War on Terror” coming to an end.
  • As the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 approaches, many experts caution of an interest in terror groups to commemorate the sad day with new attacks.
    • U.S. officials have confirmed that documents retrieved from bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan show that al Qaeda was in the early planning stages for an attack on U.S. railroads to mark the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
    • According to Homeland Security, the FBI has advised local officials to be on the lookout for clips or spike missing from train tracks, packages left near the tracks, and/or any other indications that a train could be at risk.

But the truth is that regardless of recent developments, it is always advisable to prepare for the threat of terrorism. Domestic terrorism is possible. This is not a time for complacency. Property owners, tenants/employers and everyone should continue to follow best practices.

How can you remain vigilant to the threat of terrorism?

  • Set protocols for monitoring any incoming delivery packages and personnel.
  • Establish rules for suspicious items that are left at or near your facility.
  • Pay attention to the Department of Homeland Security’s threat monitoring.
  • For high-traffic and value buildings, consider installing metal detectors at each entrance. I’ve heard that you need a doctor’s note if you have a metal plate in your noggin!
  • Develop a check-system to verify visitors with tenants. A good watchdog might be just the ticket!
  • Double check current evacuation procedures make sense if a terrorist attack occurs.
  • Install security cameras, which can capture individuals who could be “casing” your building.
  • Read information about altering your HVAC systems to protect from possible chemical, biological, or radiological attacks.
  • Terrorists increasing usage of online media for propaganda also increase the risks of cyber terrorism attacks that could strike at key facilities. If you operate a secure facility that handles sensitive materials, be sure to catalog and report any suspicious hacking attempts.
  • Flag individuals who ask for detailed information about your building or the surrounding areas. Scrutinize any requests for blueprints or other schematics. Just sayin’.

The best way to manage the risks of terrorism is similar to planning for natural disasters. It demands practicing common sense and planning ahead to make a facility a less desirable target. While the death of al-Qaida’s leader will hopefully destroy the terror network, threats remain that require attention.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJ Westmore, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Posted in BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, Emergency Evacuations, Fire Safety, Health & Welfare, Package Delivery, Safety at Home, Uncategorized, Version 2.0, Workplace Safety

Tips & Hints for Safety at Home and at Work

wooden ink stamp labeled with "Safety First"
Take steps to ensure the safety of those in your care

Staying safe from hazards at the workplace and at home can only be accomplished with thorough training about potential threats and associated courses of action.

In the workplace, the prevention of various safety hazards translates directly and indirectly to reduced costs. Workplace accidents and related worker’s compensation claims result in billions of dollars in lost productivity. Accidents result in the loss of valuable time spent pouring over insurance claims and jumping through hoops in order to meet OSHA reporting requirements.

Some considerations for optimal office safety that you may not be aware of include:

  • Avoid over-crowding your employees – give them at a minimum 50 square feet of their own space. This will help them avoid collisions and has the added benefit of keeping germs at bay. This is why I never allow the guys at the station to leave me in a kennel. Have you seen the accommodations!?
  • Encourage clean workspaces. Papers or files on the floor are hazards. Tangles of wires can cause serious falls and pose electrical fire hazards.
  • Employees who need to use ladders or step stools should be trained as to proper procedures for operating equipment. For instance, dogs that need to use ladders probably shouldn’t.

Accidents in the workplace are often related to improper storage:

  • Don’t store boxes on top of filing cabinets or other unsecured high places. Especially not boxes of mint flavor “breath-freshening” biscuits. Those should be kept at ground level.
  • Flammable or combustible materials should be stored separately from ignition sources.
  • Clear hallways are vital for evacuations. Ensure that your building’s tenants follow proper egress codes.

Not all workplace hazards are visible. Stress is an important issue that contributes to accidents and injury. While employers often view the effects of stress in terms of lost productivity, it is important to note that a stressful work environment can also hinder sound decision-making in cases of emergency. Best way to deal with stress? Head to the local pound and rescue a pooch!

At home, many of the same rules apply for ensuring maximum safety. Resources such as the Home Safety Council provide helpful tips.

Fire safety in the home:

  • Kitchen safety includes using oven mitts and never leaving hot surfaces unattended.
  • Gas grills should only be used outdoors and kept away from shrubs and areas of dried leaves. I have heard that some humans use grills indoors during the winter. Not a good idea.
  • Space heaters should only be used on flat surfaces far away from any ignition source. If available, consider installing central heat, which is considerably safer and more fuel efficient. I tried a space heater in the doghouse once. Then I remembered I have a fur coat.

Help prevent accidents involving small children:

  • Baby gates installed at the top and bottom of stairs and basement access points can prevent falls. Teach little ones to go downstairs backwards until they are able to walk and can hold onto the railing. If you are trying to keep out Bowzer, just remember that we dogs can jump!
  • Secure balconies with Plexiglas coverings if there are large gaps between posts.
  • Window screens won’t prevent a 40-pound toddler from falling. Quick-release window guards, on the other hand, can prevent such accidents and can be easily removed in case of fire.

Poisoning prevention:

  • According to the CDC, poisoning caused more than 700,000 ER visits in 2009.
  • Secure all items in the home, not just those under the kitchen sink. Usage of tamper resistant caps can prevent inquisitive children from playing with chemicals.
  • All prescriptions and other medicines should be secured in medicine cabinets. Simple rule. Cold medicine – medicine cabinet. Teriyaki jerky – food cabinet.

Overall safety in the workplace and home is a vast topic. Developing a broad knowledge base in multiple areas will minimize risks and make accident prevention a state of mind.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJ Westmore, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Posted in BE SAFE, Biological Warfare, Building Evacuation, Disaster Preparedness, Emergency Evacuations, Health & Welfare, High-Rise Buildings, Package Delivery, Terrorism, Uncategorized

How to Guard Against Anthrax

Clear bottle filled with white powdery substance
Anthrax can be used for biological warfare, because this infectious disease has spore-forming bacteria that can be easily spread.

Soon after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, letters laced with Anthrax began appearing in the U.S. mail. Five Americans were killed and 17 were sickened in what became the worst biological attacks in United States history.

Although an attack on the United States using weaponized Anthrax is considered a very low probability now, it is still important to prepare for such an event. After all, the fatality rate for those exposed to Anthrax is over 99%, if left untreated. Terrorists consider it a preferred biological warfare agent because it is easy to disperse, travels quickly and is lethal, not unlike cat breath.

Anthrax can be used for biological warfare, because this infectious disease has spore-forming bacteria that can be spread easily using missiles, artillery, aerial bombs and other methods. Depending on the wind, a disease such as Anthrax could spread hundreds of miles in a few short hours…much like cat breath.

Fortunately, there is good news. There is an oral medication that has been proven effective in treating Anthrax, if administered within 48 hours of exposure. Also, on December 2009, President Barack Obama signed an executive order stating, essentially, that in the event of an Anthrax outbreak, the postal service had the capacity to deliver said antidote, along with instructions for administering it. One hundred and eighty days after the order was signed, the Postal Plan was enacted, a program which uses the nation’s letter carriers to deliver medical countermeasures. And we all know that our nation’s letter carriers are sorely in need of help. But that’s just one firedog’s opinion.

Although dogs aren’t as susceptible to Anthrax as you humans are, we all need to know what to do, and how to recognize the symptoms before suffering a possibly fatal infection! Here are several things that small businesses and individuals can do to prepare for an attack.

1. Understand Exposure:

  • Bacillus Anthracis (Anthrax) can occur in three forms: cutaneous (skin,) inhalation, and gastrointestinal.
  • Anthrax can lay in soil for years, and spread by handling (certain) animal products and then failing to immediately wash hands
  • Communicability is not a concern; Anthrax does not spread easily from person to person or person to dog or dog to dog.

2. Recognize the symptoms:

  • Over 95% of Anthrax cases are from Bacillus Anthracis that has entered the skin. The first sign of a cutaneous Anthrax infection is a small bump, resembling an insect bite, which grows over the course of a few days, developing a black center.
  • Those infected by inhaling Anthrax initially have symptoms that may resemble a common cold. After several days, the symptoms may progress to severe breathing problems and shock. Inhalation Anthrax is often fatal.
  • The intestinal disease form of Anthrax may follow the consumption of contaminated meat and is characterized by an acute inflammation of the intestinal tract. Initial signs of nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting, and fever are followed by abdominal pain, vomiting of blood, and severe diarrhea. Intestinal Anthrax results in death in 25 percent to 60 percent of cases.

3. Know how to prevent possible contact with Anthrax:

  • Avoid working with livestock, if possible. Also, avoid working with cats. (Just a suggestion.)
  • Carefully examine any and all foreign packages, to ensure that they have not been contaminated
  • Get the Anthrax Vaccine. Although it’s been around since 1970, many people do not know that there is a safe and effective vaccine which is said to be 93% effective. Believe me; shots are not that bad, even though my wife and I have a difficult time calming JR down when he has to have injections.

4. Use common sense. If you receive a package in the mail with a written threat, or a visible powdery substance inside or outside of it:

  • Wash hands immediately after handling
  • Do NOT open it
  • Call 911
  • Leave the package where it is
  • Move everyone away from the package, but keep those who may have come in contact with it in a separate location, until authorities arrive

John Koerner, chief of the U.S. Health and Human Service’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives Branch, said the first piece in preparing for such an emergency is to ensure that planning is evidence-based by using existing experience and expertise to inform plans and processes.

Recognizing the symptoms

Knowing the different ways Anthrax can be introduced into your system, as well as the symptoms and treatments for each particular type of infection, is a good way to prepare against this disease. Being able to identify the symptoms early on can make the difference between life and death.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJ Westmore, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Posted in BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, Health & Welfare, High-Rise Buildings, Package Delivery, Terrorism, Uncategorized, Version 2.0

Suspicious Packages – Follow Protocols and Procedures for Safety

digital illustration of package going around the world
Carefully screen packages.

Despite the prevalence of cloud computing and paperless offices, many businesses still rely on a daily inflow and outflow of packages and letters. I certainly rely on my daily mailings from “Treats-R-Us.”

For several companies and buildings, security procedures surrounding such packages are either lax or nonexistent. To reduce security risks, many owners and managers wisely route deliveries through a security or screening area before packages are delivered directly to tenants.

Unfortunately, this preventive measure is necessary since the potential threat from packages and letters being used to harm individuals is very real. Given the massive volume that flows through the U.S. Postal Service and companies like UPS and FedEx, potential terrorists or other disgruntled individuals have considerable anonymity sending packages.

One of the most famous mail bombers is Ted Kaczynski, also known as the Unabomber. A disgruntled former professor and ecological terrorist, Kaczynski mailed and delivered packages containing explosives for nearly 20 years. Using different tactics to hide the origination address of his various packages, he was able to avoid detection even given an enormous law enforcement manhunt. I’m not why they didn’t put some of my bloodhound friends on the case. Those guys can track down anything.

Building managers should institute procedures to help identify and stop potentially harmful packages.

Delivery procedures:

  • All packages should be received in a central location that is staffed by individuals trained in identifying suspicious packaging.
  • Hand delivered packages warrant extra scrutiny and should be properly examined before opening.
  • Front desk personnel and security should keep track of the typical schedules for postal and delivery staff, to help determine if something is out of place.

Train your mailroom or front desk staff on ways to spot an odd or suspicious package. Here are some red flags:

  • Inaccuracies including misspellings of someone’s name
  • Packages sent to an employee who has not been at the company for some time. Did the addressee leave in 1998? That’s a cause for concern!
  • Boxes which are not addressed to a specific person
  • Excessive markings such as “confidential,” “do not x-ray,” or other odd warnings. Items that are marked perishable might be another story. I better take a look…
  • Any odor or stains. (Not including those that are puppy-related!) As the publicity around the “Anthrax Letters” grew in 2001, mailrooms around the country increased their vigilance to properly screen incoming mail.
  • Excessive weight, protruding wires, or any ticking or mechanical sounds are very clear warning signs to evacuate the building.

Mailroom and delivery receipt personnel should be properly trained to handle suspicious packages.

  • The first rule – don’t open it!
  • Handle the package with care. Avoid shaking or bumping the package. If it is “Bring your pooch to work day,” don’t let them nibble the boxes!
  • Encourage employees to be critical.
  • Do not create an environment where workers are hesitant to raise suspicions.
  • For larger mailrooms, considering reserving an area for suspect packages, preferably a small room with a door. Any packages from Omaha Steaks or Hillshire Farms should receive special routing to my doghouse.
  • Isolate the package from other workers.

Establishing clear protocols and a chain of command are critical for any potentially dangerous situation, where training and structure can save lives. Have a written plan in place so the mail clerk can notify a supervisor and building management. Similar to how the guys at the fire station are required to notify me when a new shipment of tennis balls arrives.

Management should work with security to inform the local authorities. Set rules for when evacuating the building is warranted, and make sure the threat from suspicious packages is part of your comprehensive evacuation plan. An overabundance of caution is needed for optimal safety, so make sure your building management and tenants work together to properly screen and identify packages.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJ Westmore, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.