Preparing and Protecting Your Business from Violent Forms of Civil Unrest
Preparing Your Business
While the majority of protests occurring around the country have remained largely peaceful, there have been remote incidents of violent outbreaks that have garnered significant media attention. While typically not the norm, when these violent forms of civil unrest emerge, businesses should be prepared to prevent damage, theft and vandalism. While these steps may not avoid all threats, they may reduce the potential impact. As you evaluate your business, consider several security measures.
Emergency Action Plan
Ensure employees are knowledgeable about the organization’s Emergency Action Plan. This is true of any business disruption and is an ongoing challenge. However, since violent forms of civil unrest are a bit unique, you may want to make this a specific focus. Consider adding one of these scenarios as a component to your preparedness exercises. This will help employees appreciate the uniqueness of this situation and assist them in better understanding your company’s specific response.
Establish a site-specific security plan. This plan should be developed in concert with all business stakeholders, contractors and larger business community. It is beneficial to unite with local business owners or residents who are in close proximity to your business and ask them to report suspicious activities. The security plan should be reviewed monthly or more often, if necessary. Audits should be performed weekly and security checklists completed daily.
Implement Deterrent Measures
Depending on your type of business and location (e.g. Construction) consider a strong perimeter barrier system or fence. Try to minimize access points and only utilize staffed entry and exits zones to verify that only authorized workers are on the site. Access points for workers and delivery trucks should be gated and locked when the business is closed.
Lighting is one of the best deterrents after hours and through the night. The business perimeter parking lot and storage areas should be well-lit. Additional lighting should be placed at other points including various floors of a multi-story business or project.
Consider placing signage around the perimeter of your business. These signs should state the following information:
- Authorized entry only – no trespassing
- Monitored by 24- hour security
- Violators will be prosecuted
- Enhance Security Capabilities
Be prepared to enhance security capabilities. This may entail adding third-party security personnel, physical or psychological barriers, or equipment such as security cameras and supplementary lighting. Consider off-site storage back up for security camera systems. Many security camera systems allow viewing and monitoring of business operations at any time and from virtually any location which is vital for safely surveying an event. Video verified alarm systems are an additional option which often receive fast response times.
It is recommended to examine higher value equipment and material storage, and if possible move to a safer location in the building. Remove gas cans and other flammable liquids that could be used to accelerate a fire. Practice strong housekeeping by removing rocks, brick or other loose objects that could be used to break windows. When possible, cover or protect valuable materials and/or equipment to reduce damage.
Ensure work-from-home plans are in place. Identify who in your organization has the permission and capability to work remotely. Make sure proper resources are available for individuals to do their jobs successfully.
Utilize emergency notification services effectively. Create dynamic groups that allow for easy notification and interaction with remote workers. Leverage automated conference calling to convene crisis response teams or provide situation updates.
Assign at least one individual (and a backup) to monitor news and social media. Situational intelligence is important during a widespread, unpredictable event. Business continuity managers should have as much real-time information as possible at their disposal to ensure the safety of workers and minimize risk. It is critical to note, just because you learn that protest is organized to take place in the area of your business, it does not mean that violence will occur. Continue to monitor the situation carefully and respectfully.
Look to local authorities, including police and fire, FEMA and other city officials for guidance. Your local officials and community organizations can educate you on the emergency response protocols in your area and plans specific to the current unrest. They may also be able to provide you with resources for protecting your business and after-event assistance.
Protecting Your Business
For any businesses that find themselves in the presence of a violent outbreak, they should make the following considerations to protect their people, property and safety, as necessary and appropriate.
- Encourage all employees who are uncomfortable to leave the area (if it is safe to do so) or seek safe shelter.
- If evacuation is ordered by local authorities, do so calmly and by closely following instructions.
- Secure the building and all sensitive areas.
- Monitor authorized entry into the facility if it is safe to do so.
- Although the desire to protect the property may be strong, do not confront or intervene in any violent acts that may be occurring.
Preparation is key to protecting your business and property in the event of acts of violence surrounding civil unrest. You should devise a plan, train it, test it and implement it as quickly as possible. In addition to training to the plan, consider training your employees and staff to recognize the difference between peaceful demonstrations and violent outbreaks. Just because a crowd is gathering in a nearby area does not mean you are at risk. Take precautions, prepare and monitor the situations carefully and respectfully.
RCM&D Risk Consultants are available to discuss your plan or help you develop a new plan from start-to-finish.
For more information on these topics please refer to the following articles: