Security is one of the factors that must form part of a health and safety risk assessment. All employers have a duty to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, that their premises are a safe place for their staff and visitors to be.

In conducting a risk assessment for security purposes, your aim is to determine the best methods by which to control risks to security. This should cover all times, including when the premises are closed. In fact, the process of closing down a building should form a part of the assessment.

Risk Assessments: Make them Regular, Make them Comprehensive

A risk assessment for security should be conducted on a regular basis: all too often they are carried out once, and that is that. But security risks are an evolving entity, and the measures available to help resolve them are subject to ongoing innovation and improvement. An annual security strategy review is the absolute minimum recommended.

When addressing security concerns, apply the ‘think thief’ approach: in other words think about the premises from the intruder’s viewpoint. The police, the crime prevention officer, the fire officer, the local authority and insurers can all provide advice and practical guidance in this respect, as can security professionals. Seeking expert assistance in compiling a security strategy is a wise move. The more assistance you can call in, the more comprehensive and therefore protective your security strategy will be.

The Health and Safety at Work Act: How to Comply

There are a number of factors to consider when assessing the security of property in order to comply with the Health and Safety at Work Act. These include:

Windows and doors: what measures are being used to secure them? Are locks and cylinders British Standards approved? Do exits provide for a safe path in the event of an emergency? Are internal doors fire resistant and kept closed at all times?

Waste and flammable materials: could discarded items left outside the premises be used to assist a break-in, or for arson or vandalism? What measures are in place to prevent this from happening? For example chaining and padlocking waste bins to prevent them being moved and keeping them a good distance from the building (8 metres is the minimum recommendation).

Alarm systems: are these correctly set up? Do they sufficiently deal with the risks, such as the protection of lone or vulnerable workers? Are panic buttons installed where appropriate? Are the systems being regularly and professionally maintained? Do personnel have the necessary training in how to operate them? Are regular drills held?

Lighting: is all lighting – including emergency lighting and external sensor lighting – in working order? Is it sufficient?

Valuable equipment: is all the vital equipment you need to run your business, especially equipment that is used to store data, located out of view? If it is not possible to keep such items on higher floors then every attempt should be made to locate them in an area with an exterior wall that has no doors or windows. Property should be marked and the fact that it is should be noticeably advertised.

Building works: it is important to include special circumstances, such as building works, in your risk assessment. Security arrangements will need to be adjusted accordingly. Bear in mind that scaffolding can provide a means of access to upper floors; that skips can house objects that could be used to gain access and that contractor equipment can be a magnet for thieves. If you are shutting your premises down for a period of time, perhaps during the summer or over Christmas, then consideration will need to be given to the added risk, and the responsibility set for making interim checks of the property and picking up any post that may be accumulating.

There is clearly a great deal to consider when compiling a security strategy and undertaking risk assessments in order to comply with the Health and Safety at Work Act. If you are daunted by the task, the commercial security experts at Barry Bros Security are on hand to help. With extensive experience and a thorough working knowledge of health and safety legislation, they will be able to guide you into formulating a strategy that is not only legally compliant, but tailored to meet the specific security risks of your premises.