Implementing Small Changes to Improve Workplace Security

Ensuring your workplace is secure can sometimes seem like a daunting task, particularly if you’re dealing with multiple sites, sensitive or dangerous materials or information, or premises that are complex in terms of layout.

However, improving security need not be overwhelming, if you adopt a logistical, step-by-step, approach. Here are a few pointers on how to tackle security improvements methodically and without having to make huge alterations to existing arrangements.

Workplace security

Whether security is needed to protect hazardous materials or ensure important information is accessible only to those authorised to access it, employers have a duty to take seriously the responsibilities that come with their status.

In most cases, the following areas initially should be assessed for risks:

  • Access control
  • Boundary security
  • Compliance and employer responsibilities
  • Crime deterrents
  • Safety measures for staff
  • Security of buildings

 Risk assessment

A risk assessment is the first part of the review process, helping employers determine what is working well and where improvements could be made. Employers first need to assess current practice across the following key areas: 

  • Control of access

Access control (AC) applies to both physical security and information security. It means the restriction of access to a resource or location according to certain criteria, generally known as authorisation. 

  • Boundary security

Boundary security is usually applied to ways of controlling access to a physical site or resource. However, where intellectual property (IP) is concerned, it refers to safeguards that protect and secure valuable data. 

  • Compliance and employer responsibilities

Every employer has a duty to protect the health and safety of their employees as well as any other people who might be affected by their business. This has security implications, and employers are duty bound to do whatever is reasonably practicable to achieve improved security. 

  • Crime deterrents

Assessing the risk of crime includes estimating the value of resources held in the workplace, including physical elements, such as equipment and materials, and virtual elements, including data and IP. 

  • Safety measures for staff

Employers have a duty of care to their staff, customers and the public, so they must take appropriate steps to ensure that they have done everything possible to implement appropriate health and safety features, as well as security features. 

  • Security of buildings

As with managing boundaries, ensuring a building is properly secured requires physical and technological interventions to prevent unauthorised access to protect the staff, visitors and the public from hazards that may be difficult to perceive. 

Managing access control

Access control to physical premises is often enforced by a security guard or other employee who has a remit to check the credentials of personnel admitted to a specific part of a building or site. Other simple solutions include protected entry points, such as doors with key pad door locks, which means an alphanumeric code is required to enter, and key and padlock cabinets that prevent unauthorised access to the contents. Invest in signage to indicate areas personnel may or may not be admitted to.

When it comes to securing virtual resources, access control extends to data protection, providing methods of preventing sensitive information being viewed by anyone it is not intended for. One simple way of doing this is to encrypt data so only people who are meant to see it will be able to access it. In this regard, you should also ensure that staff that handle such data are fully aware that is should only be shared on a strictly ‘need to know’ basis. 

Improving boundary and building security

Boundary security also has a physical as well as a virtual application. Using CCTV cameras and alarms, and advertising the fact that you are doing so with security and CCTV signs, is an effective way of policing the physical boundaries of buildings and other sites.

By implementing a backup system, you can ensure that even if your primary system is sabotaged or disabled, you will still have access to information that could be vital to the recovery of stolen materials or information in the event of a security breach.

Obviously, when it comes to data, boundaries are much more fluid, and employees are often targeted when travelling or working from home, while the trend of bringing your own device (BYOD) to work creates additional security hazards.

You can overcome the increased threat of data security breaches by making sure every device connected to your workplace network has a security profile and authorised configuration. Any device that doesn’t will therefore be unable to gain access to your network and, subsequently, important information. 

Enhancing crime prevention and optimising staff safety

There are several ways in which transgression of workplace guidelines can adversely affect your employees as well as your productivity and even your profit margin. Antisocial behaviour, theft, drug and alcohol abuse and possession of weapons can all potentially cause harm to your staff, your reputation and, ultimately, your business.

To combat this, draw up a workplace policy that clearly spells out the position taken by the business on issues such as these and implement the steps laid out in every case. Also, remove temptation where possible by taking preventative measures; valuables in the workplace, whether they are the property of the business or employees, should be locked away in secure storage, such as safes and lockers.

When implementing such a policy, remember to treat management and less senior employees equally, as not doing so can be interpreted as condoning certain behaviour among managers and team leaders that is forbidden among other employees. A divided workforce is unlikely to be a productive one.

Cybercrime is now a huge consideration when it comes to workplace security, and restricting access to certain areas and improving boundary security can contribute a lot to this. Use authentication as well as encryption and monitor, filter and audit web traffic using suitable software. DuraGuard Asset Tags are an effective way of tracking computer hardware, as well as providing a visual deterrent for would-be thieves, whether external or internal.

Disclaimer: The information provided through Legislation Watch is for general guidance only and is not legal advice. Legislation Watch is not a substitute for Health and Safety consultancy. You should seek independent advice about any legal matter.

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