HSE&T Corner: Security programs must incorporate terrorism prevention, crisis management

Posted on 19 April 2012

By Jim Thatcher, Encana

History has shown we cannot prevent terrorist acts from occurring. However, we can minimize the destruction and loss of life by instituting safeguards and precautionary policies.

With the increased risk of terrorism around the world, physical protection of the facility has become the focal point of achieving an acceptable level of “safeness” within the confines of the facility, as well as how to keep the employees safe while performing their daily tasks.

Most companies already have emergency action plans that include evacuation information for several types of anticipated emergencies. To strengthen those plans, terrorist releases should be incorporated as well.

A well-planned security program encompasses many efforts, paying special attention to:

• Screening and background checks;

• Preventing unauthorized entry and controlling access;

• Actively and effectively safeguarding and protecting sensitive materials;

• Developing access restrictions and controlling movement within the facility;

• Continuously evaluating and monitoring personnel and sensitive areas;

• Developing education programs in information security; and

• Applying security techniques, devices, procedures and policies.

The first step in constructing a security program is to conduct a threat/vulnerability assessment. One common and recommended assessment tool for all processes that could be hazardous is a process security assessment (PSA). Its purpose is the prevention and mitigation of a hazard caused by intentional or criminal acts. The oil and gas industry should incorporate elements into a company security management system, such as:

• Threat assessment and vulnerability surveys and checklists;

• A written security policy;

• Collaboration with corporate or division departments and with local law enforcement agencies, local emergency planning committees and federal law enforcement agencies;

• Security incident-reporting system;

• Employee training in security awareness; and

• Emergency response and crisis management.

The following industrial security checklist can be considered a working tool or guide to developing a comprehensive program. The checklist contains broad questions that can be used to evaluate current plans.

Notification

Does the plan identify potential terrorist releases as emergencies that may affect the workplace?

• Evaluate the workplace and nearby areas to identify potential terrorist targets or situations that could be used to create a hazardous emergency release.

Does the plan identify how employees can activate the response system, or how other employees would be alerted if a terrorist release were detected?

• Identify how an employee can activate the response system and how other employees will be alerted about a terrorist release.

Does the plan identify how outside organizations will be notified if a terrorist release is detected?

• Identify how designated employees will warn individuals outside the workplace that a terrorist release is detected.

Shutdown and Isolation

Is there any critical equipment that must be shut down during a terrorist release?

• Identify equipment that might be critical during a terrorist release.

Would you ever isolate an area within the workplace or use the entire workplace as a shelter?

• Describe any additional steps employees must take if they will be expected to isolate an area or the entire workplace as a shelter during a terrorist release.

Evacuating, Sheltering and Accounting for Employees

Does your plan identify any additional/different evacuation routes, exits and shelter locations that would be needed?

• Illustrate shelter locations and additional routes and exits necessary on the map/floor plan of your facility.

Does the plan identify how you will account for employees who are evacuated or sheltered?

• Identify who is responsible to account for employees evacuated or sheltered during a terrorist release.

Does the plan identify how employees will be alerted when it is safe to re-enter the workplace or to leave a shelter location?

• Identify who is responsible for making the determination that the workplace is safe to re-enter, how the responsible individual will make the determination that the workplace is safe to reenter and how employees will be alerted.

Do your evacuation and sheltering plans for terrorist releases require you to assign any additional emergency response roles to your employees?

• Employees who are expected to identify terrorist releases and unusual circumstances preceding them must be trained to perform this role.

Does your plan describe the training each employee must receive to be able to evacuate or retreat to a shelter location or to perform a response role during a terrorist release?

•Identify any additional training employees will need to carry out your planned procedures.

Equipment

Will you need additional equipment during evacuation, sheltering, critical equipment shutdown or workplace isolation resulting from a terrorist release?

• Identify additional emergency equipment employees may need during a terrorist release, who can use the additional emergency equipment and emergency equipment that will be maintained in shelter areas.

To address these considerations, additional information is available from online resources such as OSHA’s Emergency Response webpage.

A full and printable checklist can be found here.

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