Live from SecureWorld - Philadelphia

ST&D editor-in-chief Steve Lasky reports in from an expo that brings together physical and IT security staff

King of Prussia, PA - More than 500 IT and physical security end users gathered to open the two-day SecureWorld Expo. The four-year event, which is co-sponsored by Security Technology & Design magazine, discusses the converging worlds of physical and logical security technology and enterprises.

The 12 breakout sessions delivered such topics as "Developing Security Programs with Impact Toward the Bottom Line", "Seven Biggest Security Mistakes Organizations Make", "What Physical and IT Security Have to Offer Each Other," and Forensic Readiness: Who Ya Gonna Call?" In addition to the breakouts sessions there were several exclusive roundtables on convergence, identity theft and business continuity.

Opening keynote speaker C. Danny Spriggs, assistant VP of Protection for the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and former Secret Service agent, discussed new Homeland Security initiatives and the role of the service in the new homeland agency. He emphasized that diligence is still needed to meet terrorist challenges, but hinted that any new wave of terror could be IT-based.

I attended several sessions during the first day, two of which included a pair of invitation-only peer-to-peer roundtables. The morning roundtable dealt with the new era of workplace violence that is now stalking American business. Jack Scott, the director of security for Merck Pharmaceutical's West Point, Penn.,-facility moderated the roundtable and cited some highly charged facts related to the subject. He related that industry statistics show that workplace violence has increased since 2003 and 50% of all Fortune 1000 companies have workplace violence programs in place today. "If you don't have some sort of program in the works right now, you are facing some substantial liability issues down the road," said Scott.

A surprising fact Scott presented was that the definition of workplace violence has become more broad-based in the last 2 to 3 years. Once reserved for physical violence only, workplace violence can now encompass anything from downloading a destructive software virus to disseminating threats to fellow employees via private email.

"The scope of the problem has changed and the definition regarding workplace violence has changed as well," said Scott. "One of the most important things we can need to do as corporate security personnel is educate and then partner with local law enforcement when it comes to protecting your facility and its assets."

For Scott, that is a huge task. He is charged with protecting a campus environment that houses more than 10,000 employees, 2,000 outside contractors and another 33,000 animals used for research at the facility. "I need to need to be confident that local law enforcement understands what we do and to respond when we require their help.

With American companies losing more than $4.2 billion dollars to workplace violence incidents last year, according to OSHA statistics, Michael O'Malley, president of MOAB Training International, one of the top workplace violence deterrent consultants in the country, strongly emphasized that companies conduct a risk assessment of their facilities and strategically employ a comprehensive program immediately if they aren't already up and running.

"Make it your job {security director} to form that committee. But you must have buy-in from all fronts. Pull in human relations, legal, labor relations and union officials," Scott said. "Develop a written policy as to what workplace violence entails at your facility, then establish what your tolerance levels will be."

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