Let's admit up front that there is no ironclad method of securing your plant from every possible emergency. No one can predict the occurrence of wide-ranging natural, technological or human events, or the scope of their impact. Budgets simply won't support every protective measure. There are, however, reasonable and responsible steps that you can take to mitigate your greatest security challenges.
How do I determine where our vulnerabilities lie? Emergency management begins with a vulnerability assessment, which considers the impact of possible events on the organization and your preparedness to manage the emergencies. According to James 'Skipper'Kendrick, president of the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), 'Events that have the highest probability of occurring, with the greatest potential human impact, property impact and business impact, should be given the highest priority. Properly applied technology and maintenance can help to mitigate those risks.
What are some of the latest security technologies? Look for closed-circuit television (CCTV) monitoring systems with motion-detection capabilities, image recognition or interactive video. CCTV images can now be stored digitally on computer discs rather than on videotapes. CCTV and card access controllers can be accessed through the corporate network rather than leased lines and hard-wired systems. Open-standard smart cards that are able to store biometric templates and photographs can be used for access control and to log on to your PC. Video image systems for badging produce photo ID badges, capture the images and additional identification parameters in a centralized database, and designate user access privileges and restrictions.
What other prevention measures can be taken? Install intrusion detection sensors and control systems. Use geographic information systems (GIS) to assess adjacent land use. Add card readers, gates and an automatic vehicle identification system (AVI) to control vehicle access. Install quick connects for portable utility backup systems. Provide a site-wide public address system and emergency call boxes. Install radio telemetry antennas throughout the facility.
What about chemical, biological and radiological events? Chemical detection systems are currently limited to detecting specific agents. Most biological detection systems are in the research and early development stage. A variety of effective radiological detectors are commercially available. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends installing HVAC exhausting and purging systems to push airborne hazards from inside buildings.
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E-mail Contributing Editor Sheila Kennedy, Additive Communications, at Sheila@addcomm.com.