CHICAGO — Laundry and linen service safety usually relates to the working environment, keeping employees safe from accidents.
But there is more to safety at an operation. The security of a facility, keeping workers safe from internal and external threats, can be overlooked by both employers and employees.
With workplace violence increasing over the past few years, it makes sense for leadership to assess the laundry’s security measures.
American Laundry News spoke with two safety and security experts to learn about the types of security threats laundry options face and how facilities can improve security measures.
RISK ASSESSMENT, STRATEGIES
Jeff Slotnick is founder and president of Setracon Inc., a security risk management company based in Tacoma, Washington, and he has been in leadership roles for ASIS International, a community of global security practitioners.
“There is a three-legged stool to security,” he says. “There’s equipment, people, and policies and procedures. So, a video camera on a wall is nothing without a person watching it or a policy and procedure surrounding how we utilize it. Each of those is equally important.
Slotnick says the first thing a facility needs is to have a good set of policies and procedures.
“What are the things that can impact your organization and, in my industry, what starts that process is a comprehensive risk threat and vulnerability assessment,” he shares. “This is not a checklist that somebody goes through. It’s actually more similar to a security audit.”
A professional in security goes through the facility and they look at the security systems in place and analyze what is being done well and where the facility should be in other areas.
“It starts with identifying what your problems are,” Slotnick says. “Identifying what your risks are and identifying what assets you’re trying to protect—people, equipment, reputation, all those different things.
“Once we’ve identified that, then we develop the policies and procedures that help us to know what to do when an incident happens. When the incident is ongoing, that’s not the time to think about what we’re going to do. The time to think about that as before.
“And so, you have to have the policy, people in the policy and procedure.”
He uses an active shooter event as an example. Elements that need to be spelled out include lockdown and evacuation procedures.
“Do we have considerations for those that are disabled, a person that is blind or deaf or some other disability in the workplace? They need special assistance if you’re going to lock down and evacuate.”
Communication is a critical part of a security plan.
“How do you notify people that you have something going on?” says Slotnick.
“Do you have two-way communication so not only can you inform people about lockdown, but they can report to you if they see something suspicious in the parking lot, when they’re on the job, and they see something that doesn’t belong? How do they notify leadership that they’ve observed something?”
Then he says operations need to test those policies and procedures with the people on the job through regular training, drills and exercises.
“A policy is not any good unless we train it, we exercise it,” Slotnick says. “Leadership can’t be asking themselves, ‘What do we do?’ They need to be leaders. They need to be strong. They need to be able to show they know what they’re doing and act decisively.”
The frequency of training depends on how many policies and procedures a facility has in place, he says. However, he recommends practicing at least one critical policy and procedure quarterly.
“There are other methods of training,” points out Slotnick. “In the interim, there are newsletters, web pages, employee information documents where you can cover a protocol as a sidebar.
“If you have a safety committee, they can include it in their documentation. If you have an internal website, you can have an entire section of the website dedicated to emergency response and emergency response protocols.”
Then there is equipment like cameras, integrated systems and door-locking mechanisms.
“And do you have an access control system and access control policies?” Slotnick points out. “How do people get into your building? How does a visitor, vendor, contractor, family member, employee enter the building? Where do they enter from? Is your facility completely open?
“We could have 20 doors that people are coming in and out of or there could be a centralized main entrance where everybody passes through a receptionist into a waiting room or into the work areas of the of the organization.”
Besides entry points, he says facilities need to think about screening procedures. Are bags and backpacks being checked? Is there a camera on the outside of the door of the locker rooms to see who enters and who exits?
“Or do you need cameras monitoring the work area, not for monitoring people but monitoring behavior,” Slotnick says. “There’s a big difference.”
With advanced security systems, everything can be integrated, he says—cameras, access control system, policies and procedures, and emergency notification.
“There are also eyes that are available for cameras and systems where a firearm can be detected in a parking lot,” he says. “If somebody pulls into the parking lot with a vehicle and they get out and they have a long gun or a handgun or a club in their hand, the AI (artificial intelligence) detects it and can initiate a lockdown and notify first responders and send out a message and lock all the doors.
“This is all an integrated system. It happens on recognition so that you know it’s very comprehensive, and the risk assessment will identify a lot of that.”
Slotnick shares that many organizations, instead of doing a risk assessment and investing in security technology will hire a security guard.
“What they do is they hire guard, and they put a guard out front and think, ‘Well, if I’ve got a guard, I’ve got security,’” he shares. “No, you don’t. You have a guard, and a guard is expensive.
“A single guard 24/7, 365 days a year is about a $200,000-a-year investment. So, are we smarter in investing in technology? I would say yes because you’re spending $200,000 but you don’t get any more, essentially. But with technology investment, you can do a lot of those same things.”
For Slotnick, improving facility security is about creating change.
“You know, how do we create change in our organizations? Because people that are not in my industry generally don’t value security or value risk until the risk occurs,” he points out.
“And most people are not even informed of risk until they’re made aware of it.”
Click HERE to read Part 1 about the value of security cameras for internal and external safety.
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Matt Poe at [email protected].