Exclusive: Protecting at-risk personnel


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In our increasingly global economy, terrorism and other illegal actions are unavoidable. Although the chances of being abducted, hijacked, or a victim of a violent crime are statistically low, the risk is nevertheless present.

Why focus on the protection of at-risk personnel?

Every employer owes it to their employees to offer a safe working environment, both legally and morally. It indicates to everyone that management cares about their security and is prepared to take actions to assure it.

However, malicious dangers to personnel aren’t merely confined to the possibility of death. Instead of that, we can be exposed to various threats such as violence, harassment, intimidation and other disruptive behaviour.

Business travel – A fact of life for many organisations

The old concept of white-collar executives travelling across major markets currently accounts for only a small percentage of such travel. Today’s airplanes are packed with personnel from all walks of life who are travelling around the world for work or learning, typically to less developed countries. All of this has a bearing on the arrangements and risks that may be involved.

On top of that, employers should train their employees about the associated dangers of a travel destination, such as crime, infection, travel illness, or political unrest, in addition to current events, such as strikes, protests, or climatic occurrences. Employers must check up on local risks while their employees are on the road. Furthermore, organisations must have a documented emergency action plan in place to respond effectively and systematically if personnel get into difficulties when travelling internationally. Staff deployment, what to do next, contacting next of kin and keeping relatives informed should all be addressed in the plan.

How do kidnap and ransom incidents work?

Kidnapping is a growing crime in nations where responsible authorities are either incapable or unwilling to deal with it. Consequently, the kidnapper sees his schemes as low-risk, high-reward. Nevertheless, the captor’s objective is money and to make money rather than hurt the victim. For a victim’s employer, being kidnapped is extremely distressing; there may be costs associated with loss of production, rehabilitation and medical treatment. The extent to which your organisation will cooperate with responsible authorities of the kidnapping is among the first crucial choices to be made throughout a kidnapping.

Active shooting

An active shooter in your workplace could be a current or past employee. Managers and colleagues with keen intuition may detect signs of possibly aggressive behaviour in a worker. In most cases, they require freedom of movement and easy accessibility to targets to fulfill their goals. As a result, the major goal of any programs or initiatives should be to limit the criminal’s access to a broader victim.

As long as not all dangers or situations can be avoided, the term “prevention” must be defined more broadly to include acts that can lessen the degree of impact of an incident. For anyone caught up in an active shooter situation, there are three pressing steps:

1. Evacuate: Getting out of the building as soon as possible.

2. Hide: Lock the front door, block the entrance with heavy things, cover all openings, turn off all electricity and stay quiet. Cellphones should be switched to silent mode as well.

3. Survive: When confronted, this can entail using or smashing available things or utilising physical force.

How the pandemic affects the “protection of at-risk personnel”?

COVID-19 surprised the globe, the intensity of its influence on people’s lives shocked the most. It will inevitably evolve outside of the values, attitudes and behaviours we associate with traditional risks. As a result, this unconventional risk has had a direct and indirect impact on personnel security. Such limitations have worked to limit chances for potential attackers “Exp: by reducing the number of targets available to a shooter.”

We’re observing an upswing in these activities now that most countries have come back to work. When we consider the pandemic and the concept of opportunity, we realise that we not only limited the potential for risk to happen, but we also offered them more time to plan.

How can an organisation benefit from acting to reduce its “at-risk personnel”?

Many companies don’t want to think about terrible occurrences like kidnapping or extortion. However, expecting such an occurrence and implementing steps to mitigate the harm—from assessment process to preventive training, can help decrease the critical damage to your company and employees if one arises.

This raises the organisation’s chances of gaining a more accurate description of the attackers and being more helpful in their arrest. Furthermore, the presence of a security officer at the workplace can provide a sense of serenity and security to employees towards their environment. It shows that management is concerned about security and is willing to take steps to ensure it.

In the end, there is no guarantee that risk will be reduced to zero. The only way to avoid this is to avoid connecting with environments where risk is probable. 

Jawhar Farhat

By Jawhar Farhat, Security Consultant.

You can connect with Jawhar on LinkedIn here

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