the Workplace - Informational Material
General information for use in addressing security in the workplace issues
(office security, physical security in a front-line office, and a checklist
for telephone bomb threats).
Government offices can be targets for theft, unlawful entry, kidnapping,
bombings, forcible occupation and sabotage. Effective barriers, both
physical and psychological can reduce the likelihood of these threats. The
following guidelines will help you analyze your office security profile and
suggest measures to reduce your target potential.
Crime Prevention Assessment - A complete, professional assessment
of your security needs is the first step toward an effective security
program. Your nearest Federal Protective Service (FPS) office can arrange a
risk assessment be performed on your government-owned or leased office or
building. (See FPS Organization and Points of Contact).
Since most crimes are directed toward individuals or offices that have
little or no security planning in place. Take stock of your present measures
and possible weak points. A comprehensive crime prevention
assessment should ask:
- What is your
- What is the
prevailing attitude toward security?
- Who is
responsible for the overall security program?
- How are
security policies enforced?
- When was the
current emergency preparedness plan developed (including fire, power
failure and disaster)?
resources are available locally and how rapid are the response times for
fire, police and ambulance?
- What kind of
physical security systems and controls are presently used?
- Do the
available security resources, policies and procedures meet the potential
Reasonable Precautions - Once the risk assessment has been
completed, follow up with the FPS (or local law enforcement group) to act on
the findings. For example, publicize phone numbers and make sure everyone
knows whom to contact in case of an emergency.
some general suggestions that may increase your security:
key-card access systems at main entrances and on other appropriate doors.
- Issue access
control badges, with recent photographs, to all employees and authorized
perimeter control systems with intercoms and closed circuit monitoring
- Keep master
and extra keys locked in a security office.
crisis communication among key personnel and security office involving
intercoms, telephones, duress alarms or other concealed communications.
- Have a back
up communication system, like two-way radio, in case of phone failure.
executive offices near the inner core of the building to afford maximum
protection and avoid surveillance from the outside.
office space so unescorted visitors can be easily noticed.
- Have staff
follow strict access control procedures, don' t allow exceptions.
important papers locked in secure cabinets.
- Keep offices
neat and orderly to identify strange objects or unauthorized people more
- Empty trash
packages and large envelopes in executive offices only if the source or
sender is positively identified.
closets, service openings, telephone and electrical closets locked at all
times. Protect crucial communications equipment and utility areas with an
stairwells and other isolated areas. Try not to ride the elevator alone
with a suspicious person.
- Don't work
late alone or on a routine basis.
publicly accessible restroom doors locked and set up a key control system.
If there is a combination lock, only office personnel should open the lock
Keep an Executive Information File - Your security office
should maintain an emergency contact file for immediate access for key
personnel containing personal information to be used in case of emergency.
This confidential file should contain:
- Home address
and telephone number
members; names, ages, descriptions
schedules, addresses, phone numbers
relatives in the area; names, address, phone numbers
history and physicians name, address, phone number
emergency services; ambulance and hospital phone numbers
- Any code
words or passwords agreed upon.
Consider Setting Up Secure Areas in the Building - You may
wish to consider maintaining one or more "secure rooms" on your work
premises. This area can serve as a retreat in case of intrusion or other
danger. The room should be equipped with:
- Steel doors
and protected ventilation system
- First aid
- Phone and
backup communication equipment
blankets and hardened walls
- Sand bags
- Extra food
flashlight and batteries
- Firearms (if
permitted under established policy)
PHYSICAL SECURITY IN A FRONT-LINE OFFICE
If your office is
a Federal "front-line" office with direct "employee-to-customer" service,
your office and building should be designed according to Federal Protective
Service security guidelines.
If your agency does not have security procedures in place, the head of your
agency may want to ask a regional GSA Federal Protective Service office to
conduct a physical security survey to ensure that employees are working in a
safe and secure environment. (See FPS Organization and Points of Contact).
requesting a security survey, your agency may want to do a "crime
assessment" of the risks you and your coworkers may encounter in your
workplace. Are your customers likely to experience high levels of stress or
tension? Do members of the general public who come into the office tend to
be argumentative? Have there been threats or incidents of violence involving
the public in the past? Or have Federal employees themselves become violent
front-line public service office fits this profile, your agency needs to
take immediate steps to help make your workplace fully secure.
Following are some suggestions on improving security in your office and/or
- Post a
security guard at the main building entrance or at entrances to specific
offices. Officers (or guards) should have a clear view of the controlled
area at all times.
- Install a
metal detector or CCTV (closed-circuit television) camera or other device
to monitor people coming in all building entrances.
- Issue all
employees photo identification cards and assign temporary passes to
visitors--who should be required to sign in and out of the building. Under
certain conditions, FPS officers (or contract guards) should be required
to call Federal offices to confirm an appointment and/or to request an
escort for all visitors--customers, relatives, or friends.
office furniture and partitions so that front-line employees in daily
contact with the public are surrounded by "natural" barriers--desks,
countertops, partitions--to separate employees from customers and
employees on steps to take if a threatening or violent incident occurs.
code words to alert coworkers and supervisors that immediate help is
- Provide an
under-the-counter duress alarm system to signal a supervisor or security
officer if a customer becomes threatening or violent.
- Establish an
area in the office for employees and/or customers to escape to if they are
confronted with violent or threatening people.
Physical Security Features in a Customer Service Federal Office
Physical Security Survey - A major goal of GSA's Federal
Protective Service is to provide better protection for Federal employees and
visitors by pinpointing high-risk areas in Federal buildings where potential
problems or emergency situations might occur. This is accomplished through a
"Physical Security Survey" conducted by a certified GSA physical security
specialist. The survey is a comprehensive, detailed, technical on-site
inspection and analysis of the current security and physical protection
U.S. General Services
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