Protect your business against risk by understanding the three spheres involved in a risk assessment.
South Africa faces a future of erratic power supply. It is important for businesses to draw up a list of priorities and to plan for blackout scenarios.
Good planning includes a detailed list of what systems need to be kept running when the power is off. Some security features will have to be forgone to maintain other, more critical, security points, or to keep their businesses functioning.
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When helping a company understand and protect itself against risk, there are three spheres of assessment:
A physical risk assessment focuses on a business’ premises, location and access. The location of a business, whether it is isolated or in a mall in close proximity to other businesses, will affect its vulnerability when there is no power. Factors such as artificial lighting required to detect threats will vary in different locations.
Entrance and exit points need to be well managed in the event of a loss of power. These points are particularly vulnerable as most businesses, especially in retail, design their entrances to create easy access for customers.
Back-up power supplies keep monitoring tools, such as close- circuit television (CCTV) running during blackouts or you can assign additional personnel to these points to watch for any suspicious activity.
Alarm systems are also designed to assist with after hours access control. Businesses should check that all back-up batteries on alarm equipment, electric fences and gates are tested and in good working order to ensure that alarms go off as intended in an emergency and that armed response is signalled.
If there is a limited back up power supply, business owners need to decide which physical security systems can be decreased or alternated to manual or manned resources.
A more permanent adjustment to mitigate physical risk for retailers in particular is to redesign their store layouts so that high-value items are not in high-risk, low visibility areas in the store.
The human risk for businesses extends to people who intend to commit a crime or who take advantage of a business’ vulnerability during such instances.
Businesses can mitigate risk by implementing searches and physical signing in and out for staff and suppliers that access the businesses during the blackout period. Alternatively, back-up power can be used to maintain security systems such as CCTV.
However, these solutions can have limited success and a longer term and more effective approach to ensure that staff are well vetted and assessed for their security risk before they are hired.
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There are risk factors that business owners can unintentionally fail to assess properly because they vary significantly and are seemingly intangible outsourced areas of businesses.
- Insurance - most insurance contracts take into account existing security systems and features. Business owners need to consult their brokers to establish the terms of their insurance if these systems are down due to a power outage, ensuring they are not underinsured and that their premiums are up to date, should anything go wrong, they will be sufficiently covered.
- Armed response - It is necessary to clarify what the procedures are during a power outage and what the armed response company is able to do or not do, including what services they offer, such as additional security guards, cash handling, and crisis training.
- Cash risk – load shedding happens at different times, the amount of cash on hand can vary significantly. Businesses need to clearly address the risks they face around cash. For example, if they keep money in a vault or device, they need to clarify whether that needs power to function correctly. Possible solutions include using a licensed cash collection security company to manage the movement of cash, and keeping as little cash on the premises as possible.
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Though there are many different types of risk that businesses face when they are forced to function without power, assessing and addressing these risks in advance and establishing and communicating mitigation strategies to necessary parties can empower businesses to function as securely as possible, even when the lights go out.