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Why Your Building Needs a Security Risk Assessment


Keeping a facility secure is an ongoing process. Building security solutions aren’t one-size-fits-all since every facility is unique and security needs evolve over time, in the same way that cybersecurity solutions are not static. Although you may have previously installed security systems, they may not meet the current protection standards. A risk assessment is the most important thing facility managers can do to improve building security since it helps ensure a security system will protect against the most concerning threats. Starting with these basic steps can help ensure your building and workers are protected from common security gaps. 

What is a security risk assessment?

According to Campus Safety Magazine, a physical security risk assessment is an expert review of potential weaknesses and vulnerabilities in a facility’s security. It includes looking at existing security measures and other physical aspects of a building’s security and discussing the best ways to protect against threats to employees and property, including:

  • Property crime
  • Intruders
  • Severe weather impacts

In addition to examining the potential security risks your property faces, a threat assessment also takes inventory of assets and information that require protection from specific threats, including employees and visitors, merchandise, equipment, important documents and more.

Follow this process to help identify where your building security may be lacking:

1. Identify Security Threats

First, consider all the risks of your business and prioritize them by the likelihood of occurrence.  According to Security Magazine, working with a safety consultant can help you create a comprehensive assessment of your facility and business, including: 

  • Physical hazards
  • Chemicals
  • Equipment
  • Areas susceptible to severe weather

2. Analyze Physical Building Security

Assess how secure your building is by analyzing if your doors, locks, and windows provide loopholes that make it easy for people to enter your facility without being detected. According to FacilitiesNet, one approach can be to create a risk assessment scorecard. The score can help determine the appropriate security applications, such as enhanced access control or video. Other assessments might categorize risks as major, moderate or lesser. For example, a building that stores hazardous chemicals or natural gas might be considered a major-risk building.

3. Check Security Cameras and Surveillance System 

Make sure that existing security equipment is fully operational and optimized. Video surveillance cameras can be housed and mounted on high ceilings and corners to provide 24/7 digital video monitoring and intelligent analysis according to your needs. It’s important to ensure there aren’t any blind spots in your video surveillance system so that you can clearly monitor the entire building and critical utilities to help protect worker safety.

4. Consider Environmental Factors

Physical building security is more than doors and alarms. Natural elements, like landscaping, can impact your building’s security. Make sure trees, bushes and pathways are well-maintained around your property. Entrances and exits should be clearly visible from inside the building. Ensure landscaping, signage or displays aren’t blocking windows. Examine lighting systems to see if additional exterior lighting or motion sensors are needed near entrances, pathways or parking lots since well-lit grounds can discourage bad actors. New integrated lighting systems and lighting controls are available, allowing facility managers to automatically adjust lighting based on occupancy, the weather and business hours.

5. Prepare for Emergency Scenarios

After assessing your physical structures, it’s important to consider your operational procedures to help protect your employees. Use these risk mitigation and emergency planning checklists to regularly inspect your facility and prepare for different emergency scenarios.

Make sure your building has the required alarms per building codes and that they are tested regularly. Ensure appropriate checks and precautions are set in place if employees work overnight. Confirm emergency plans and procedures are active and up-to-date to help keep workers safe in the event of a fire, natural disaster and other threats. Installing a backup power source like a generator for security systems can help keep your building secure during a power or Internet outage.

6. Conduct Routine Risk Assessments  

After completing your security risk assessment, take the time to consider what new safeguards or safety practices should be implemented to help reduce any hazards or risks. From more training to new safety processes or additional PPE, routine planning and risk assessments can help prevent losses and reduce the risk from the dangers you’ve identified.

Security Magazine recommends conducting a risk assessment when:

  • Workflow changes
  • A new process is added
  • Equipment is added, replaced or updated 
  • New staff is hired, or job duties change

Remember, a risk assessment is never complete — it’s part of an ongoing responsibility to help keep your workers safe and your building secure. While no two businesses’ operations are the same, the purpose of any risk assessment is to help protect employees and comply with appropriate laws and regulations.

While a risk assessment can help determine your building's overall security, working with the police, local agencies or a trained safety professional can help provide a thorough site evaluation and recommend solutions to ensure your building is protected from various threats.

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The information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This article is not a substitute for review of current applicable government regulations, industry standards, or other standards specific to your business and/or activities and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.