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Protecting Your Employees During A Protest: 4 Security Steps Business Owners May Need To Take

Protests and industrial action can interrupt your business at any time. While your workers may have no grounds to complain, other types of protest action can interrupt normal business operations and put your employees at risk. Learn how to keep your workers safe during a protest with the four following security strategies.

Plan ahead

As part of your business continuity plan, it's crucial that you get advanced notice of any planned demonstrations. In some cases, protesters will not tell the authorities about their plans, so you may need to use multiple media sources to learn about proposed activities. Sources of information can include the local media, your police department, social networking sites, and even word of mouth.

Cities sometimes insist that protesters apply for a permit. In this case, the authorities will normally warn businesses that the protesters may target. That aside, any demonstration that doesn't present a risk to traffic or safety can normally go ahead without this permission, so you will need to stay close to other, less formal sources of information.

Develop an emergency response plan

In some cases, you will only find out about a demonstration when the protesters turn up at your door. Nonetheless, in all cases, you must have an emergency response plan that you can put into practice straight away.

Things you should have in your plan include:

  • Extra protective measures for security vulnerabilities. For example, delivery bays and post rooms will all need extra protection from demonstrators. You may need to immediately close these areas and put in place security barriers.
  • Employee contact information. You'll need access to emergency contact details for all your workers if you have to get hold of their loved ones.
  • Crisis information strategy. Where will you post information that your workers need during the protest? For example, your workers will need to know you if you have to close certain exits and/or advise different routes in.
  • Supplier strategy. You may need to cancel planned deliveries or collections from your suppliers. Think about who will contact the affected suppliers and what you will tell them.
  • Flexible working arrangements. Can employees work from home or other office locations to stay away from the protest? Do you need to do anything differently to manage core customer needs during these contingency periods?

Make sure one person is in charge of your emergency response plan. He or she should have the necessary skills, experience and knowledge to oversee your crisis response.

Train staff members

Some businesses are at higher risk from planned demonstrations. For example, protesters will often target banks and financial institutions, so staff members need to know what to do if they face unexpected confrontations.

Staff members should always avoid the protesters, where possible. If employees face resistance from demonstrators, make sure they can get back into your premises or another safe place as quickly and easily as possible. It's vital that employees avoid confrontation, especially if protesters are abusive or aggressive.

Employees should take extreme care when faced with acts of violence or vandalism. While they may want to record the details on a smartphone, this sort of behavior could put them at risk. Employees must understand that their personal safety must always come first.

Consider special steps for senior executives

Senior managers and executives in your business are at higher risk. Social networking sites now make it far easier to share details of people in specific roles, so protesters may want to target certain senior executives. As such, you may need to consider extra security measures for vulnerable executives.

In the most serious cases, you may need to hire extra personal protection. Alternatively, you may only need a dedicated driver and/or extra security guards at the main entrance to escort these employees in and out of the office. Talk to a security company for more advice about the services you may need.

A protest or demonstration could disrupt your business and put your employees at risk. Plan carefully for these activities, and consider the extra measures you may need to take to keep your workers safe. Contact local security professionals, such as Security Services Northwest, Inc, for more information or ideas.