The Threat Assessment

Lesson 3: Topic 6 of 9

A threat assessment is nothing more than evaluating your worksite for vulnerabilities, some of which are bulleted above. Besides training, physical tools ― often referred to as environmental controls or engineering controls ― are necessary to mitigate your points of vulnerability. Below are several options.

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At more than one facility this author has overseen, I was dismayed to learn that though security cameras were everywhere, most were offline for various technical reasons. The owners made it a low priority to have them repaired or upgraded, so they were of no more value than dummy cameras that trick people into thinking they’re being observed. Cameras, functional or not, can make someone think twice about doing something illegal. But even functional cameras, unless they are monitored in real time, are ineffective in stopping an act of violence that’s already underway. 

The panic button (described in the introduction) and other types of alarm systems are invaluable in getting law enforcement on the scene as fast as possible. They are relatively inexpensive and simple to install. Mirrors at hallway junctions and other means of increased visibility can help staff spot danger at a distance. If yours is a new construction or one undergoing remodeling, consider configuring the parking lot to deliberately slow vehicular traffic. Criminals prefer to swoop in and out quickly, and a well-designed lot prevents that. 

Door locking mechanisms ― particularly ones that can be engaged remotely ― can stop an attacker from penetrating deeper into a facility, possibly saving lives. Don’t forget, though, that locking mechanisms will need to be approved by the local Fire Marshal to ensure they won’t slow or prevent egress in the event of a fire or other disaster. Rooms should be configured to reduce the possibility that staff will become trapped with no way of escape. 

Finally, remember that the same security protocols used to prevent theft and maintain general health and safety also work well for mitigating violence: 

  • Ensure the perimeter is well-lit
  • Keep a limited amount of cash on hand
  • Monitor visitors to the jobsite 
  • Retain a daily record of employees – including contact information, in case you need to account for people in a crisis
  • Have staff in isolated locations check in on a scheduled basis during their shifts to confirm their safety
  • Ask local law enforcement to increase patrols if you believe the threat level is increasing

Hiring a security consultant to assist in drawing up a threat assessment may be valuable, but you don’t need to wait for that. Look for clues yourself. As a leader, do you ever visit your worksite at off hours? It may surprise you to notice burned-out exterior lighting, unlocked doors, trash around the building, and the like.