Protecting the workplace and employees: The critical role of security technology

S. Bell, Gallagher

When it comes to the benefits that an integrated security solution offers to suppliers in the energy sector, the first topic of discussion is almost always centered on minimizing risk to physical site assets and data. In the event of a security breach, these areas can become victims of significant and widespread disruption, as well as financial and reputational loss to the business.

However, in addition to addressing these potential vulnerabilities, a fully integrated security system can deliver significant benefits in terms of creating healthier working environments, increasing workplace and employee safety, and meeting key compliance benchmarks.

These often-over-looked benefits can deliver huge wins to any operation doing business within the highly competitive energy sector.

Ensuring a healthy and safe team. The world is still emerging from the COVID-19 environment, and the capability of a security system to deliver genuine protection and benefits in this space is huge. In this regard, only the best security solutions offer tools such as a random selection facility. When integrated into a security solution, this tool enables an organization to minimize the risk of the virus spreading within its workforce by facilitating medical checks upon entry (e.g., COVID-19 testing), which prevents the employee from entering upon receiving positive test results.

Similarly, the system can mitigate the risks posed by employees working under the influence of alcohol or restricted substances. The author’s company offers an easily-programmable security solution to enforce a selection (random or pre-set) of employees for testing before they have access to the site. 

With this functionality, a facility can ensure that an appropriate selection of employees are checked when required and denied access to the site until those employees have passed the test. This capability enables the organization to address potential issues at the point of entry and at the start of the working day or shift, thereby preventing awkward conversations downstream or testing needing to be requested post-access to workstations and machinery. 

Enhancing employee awareness and attention. The risk associated with inattentive or fatigued workers operating within the energy industry can be significant. Every organization can point to examples of employee fatigue and/or inattention that have led to a potentially severe or actual incident causing damages, loss, injury or death. When a business demonstrates that it meets its compliance requirements, the traditional passive monitoring tools utilized by organizations no longer measure up. While effective at logging employee hours, such systems always had the limitation that the data was not available, viewable or able to be utilized in real time. These technologies are useful in the event of an accident to audit events but not valuable for proactively preventing the event from occurring.

An intelligent and integrated security system enables the organization to identify staff who have been onsite for extended periods and may be at risk of fatigue, decreasing the potential for an accident. The system will send an automatic alert to a designated manager or team lead if the employee has exceeded a pre-set time limit, allowing for prompt action to address the risk.

Furthermore, the system will allow site management to set certification or competency levels for the use of specific machinery or equipment and clearance levels to limit access to potentially hazardous areas of the site. These rule-based entry requirements are monitored in real time and are not open to any subjective discussion. 

The advantages of this approach in limiting the risk of accident and injury from non-approved and/or less skilled employees are clear. Additionally, it provides the employer with a significant weapon in the ongoing battle to meet and exceed health, safety and environmental compliance requirements. 

Improving emergency response. Given the nature of the energy industry and the types of chemicals, materials and processes that are commonplace, an organization’s ability to respond quickly and without hesitation to an emergency is critical.

Keeping staff and visitors safe and notified in real time must be an absolute non-negotiable. Unfortunately, many sites still rely on manual processes (e.g., paper rosters and in and out boards) to track onsite personnel.

When an emergency evacuation event occurs (in an organization with an intelligent and integrated security system), location monitors like a tag board feature will provide emergency responders with head counts and area reporting that make it easier to locate people, whether they have exited a building or are still inside during an evacuation. At the collective muster points, the manual approach to roll call will be a distant thing of the past as guards or safety officers register staff and visitors immediately as they arrive using their access cards.

Additional technology, like a broadcast notification feature, will also kick in, allowing security personnel to quickly send critical emergency response instructions to multiple recipients in one simple step. These notifications can be automatically triggered by alarms and events to communicate emergencies or notify specific groups of area shutdowns. Installing integrated security systems in facilities dramatically improves its ability to accurately direct emergency services, manage situations, and keep employees and emergency responders safe. GP


Sbell Cropped


STEVE BELL has more than 30 yr of experience in the security industry. As Chief Technology Officer, Bell has led the development of the Gallagher security product over several generations. Driven by his goal to leave the world of physical security in a better place, he is focused on improving security solutions and spreading awareness of the possibilities of making security more secure.

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