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Hospitality Risk Insights: Be Prepared for Security and Disaster Risks

Posted by Luke Horcica on Wednesday, November 18, 2015

To protect your employees, patrons and organization, you need to prepare for unforeseen threats, including criminal activity, natural disasters and acts of terrorism.

Part of risk management is preparing for unforeseen security threats and disasters. Though such situations may seem unlikely or difficult to imagine, such threats could lead to catastrophic consequences for your business. Criminal behaviour, including vandalism or theft, presents a more tangible risk, but you also need to consider the risks of natural disasters or terrorism threats in your community. These risks are even greater because you have a responsibility to protect not only your employees, but also your patrons. To prepare for the unexpected, you should review your security and disaster readiness plans to help you minimize the impact of any potentially threatening situation.

Without prior planning, you leave your company open to financial disaster, especially if you are forced to close operations for a period of time. In addition, without a proper plan to cope with a disaster situation, your company may face lawsuits from patrons, vendors or employees claiming negligence.

Ensure Facility Security

It is important to take action before a disaster to assess your facility’s security and to make improvements, if necessary. Though not all security threats can be avoided, some situations can be prevented with appropriate preparation.

  • Advise management and employees to report any suspicious persons or activity in or around the facility.
  • Establish security measures for patrons entering your facility. This will vary depending on your business, but may include special considerations for children or identification requirements for entry.
  • Survey locks, fences, exterior lights and other physical security devices to ensure that they are in place where needed and in proper operating condition. Establish a monthly inspection of your security perimeter and of the key protective features of your facility.
  • Pay special attention to areas where you are storing explosive, flammable or toxic chemicals. These areas should be properly secured and inventoried, with limited hands-on contact of these materials when possible.
  • Evaluate critical locations in your facility for proper security, including the electric, telephone and gas units, building entrances, transformers, outside storage units and computer rooms.
  • If your facility has a security/fire alarm system, be sure it is operating properly and that key personnel know how to arm/disarm it.
  • Make sure that fire suppression systems are regularly inspected and maintained. Also be sure that a sufficient number of trusted personnel know how to activate, operate and shut them down.
  • Install cameras to monitor areas that are especially susceptible to violence, theft or vandalism, and post notices so that patrons know the cameras are monitoring their activity.
  • Review your procedures for issuing facility keys and access cards. At a minimum, keep lists of who has been issued keys/cards and have a procedure for handling a situation when an employee leaves or is terminated and doesn’t return them.
  • Discuss security with your local police department. Police departments are often very willing to provide information and support to businesses.
  • Have your local fire department conduct a pre-planned visit to your building. While there, they can identify potential hazards and plan fire suppression priorities.

Planning for a Disaster

  • Be sure to discuss terrorism and applicable natural disaster coverage with your Lloyd Sadd Insurance Brokers Ltd representative.
  • Keep copies of insurance policies and other critical documents in a safe and accessible location (e.g., a fireproof safe).
  • Evaluate which disasters are most likely to occur in your area, remembering to include the possibility for terrorist activity. Be sure you are prepared for all of the risks you identify.
  • Establish a disaster response plan, which could include evacuation or building lockdown depending on the situation, and have the plan posted for all staff and patrons to access.
  • Develop a Disaster Recovery or Business Continuity Plan. If you already have one make sure that it is up to date. This entails preparing for anything that disrupts your business operations and planning for a backup option when feasible. You also need to plan how you will recover from any business disruptions and re-open as soon as possible.
  • Have telephone call lists available (include cell phone numbers) so staff members can be contacted during non-working hours from any location. Review procedures for notifying employees that your facility is closed. Remind employees that they should never attempt to enter areas that are closed by police or other emergency responders.
  • Consider establishing an alternate method for your phone service if the switchboard becomes unusable (e.g., forwarding incoming calls to a cell phone or remote number).
  • Check available emergency supplies such as flashlights, batteries, emergency generators/fuel, patching materials such as plastic sheeting, wood 2x4s, duct tape, spare fire extinguishers, first-aid kits, etc.
This Risk Insights is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel or an insurance professional for appropriate advice. © 2010-2013 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.
Luke Horcica
Principal