This article was updated on August 29, 2018.

While many organizations are putting an increased focus on information security, workforce security — a comprehensive approach to building a safe physical environment — is still a necessity. According to the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), there are 2 million reported incidents of workplace violence each year. To reduce risks, consider a varied approach to security, including physical and premise security and disaster planning.

Security firm Allied Barton recommends moving toward a "safety culture," which refers to the way your employees behave when "no one is watching." Leaders must develop safeguards against risks and implement processes and procedures to protect employees. Employee responsibilities in a safety culture should include

  • Vigilance against risks and hazards
  • Recognition of "near miss" events
  • Behaving within established procedures

A culture of safety requires a strong framework, and employees who possess the requisite knowledge to be vigilant against safety risks.

Here some best practices that will help your organization increase workforce safety.

Improving Physical and Premise Security

Physical security has long been considered one of the nine practices necessary to protect information and employees against threats, according to ComputerWorld. The article also highlights the following areas of "key exposure" to guard against at your organization:

  • Open lobbies
  • Unlocked data centers
  • Door security
  • Surveillance
  • Visitor tracking

In addition, organizations should consider aspects of premise security, including employee parking lots, outdoor lighting and landscaping. The nature of your business can play a significant role in determining the types of physical security measures you are able to implement, as well as risk. By collaborating with IT and facilities management, HR can perform a comprehensive risk assessment and install the necessary safeguards.

Planning for Disasters

Catastrophic weather events, cybercrime attacks and human error can result in disaster with long-lasting effects. In the event of a disaster, only 6 percent of organizations without effective business continuity planning experience long-term survival or business recovery, according to CloudTweaks. Therefore, adequate disaster planning should be a vital component of your business's health and your employees' peace of mind.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends a multi-step approach to developing an effective business continuity plan at your organization. After processes are defined, HR and IT should partner closely to disseminate "training, testing, [and] exercising" plans for all employees, even individuals who are not actively involved in safety committees.

The Human Side of Workforce Security

Managing the human aspects of workplace safety, as it relates to employee behavior, is critical to business longevity. Leadership should educate employees so they understand expectations and have familiarity with the systems for reporting perceived threats in the workplace, including irrational behaviors, suspected intruders or other potential issues. By including behavioral standards in onboarding and training, employees can develop the knowledge needed to definitively identify potential risks and protect themselves, their colleagues and the business.

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