News stories about sexual assault and harassment seem to be everywhere in the news recently. From Hollywood elites such as Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey, to Washington D.C. Senators John Conyers and Al Franken, allegations of this type seem to be the majority of news stories today.
Even those who report on these stories are being pointed out. Just this week, NBC Today show anchor Matt Lauer was fired for sexual harassment.
With allegations everywhere, one has to wonder how sexual assault and harassment can be reduced or eliminated in the workplace. Here are our thoughts on how security can help.
Today’s video technology has made it very easy to use video cameras to observe nearly every corner of a facility. Often just knowing a camera is there is enough to deter sexual harassment or assault.
But that isn’t always the case. Video cameras have been able to pick up incidents of sexual assault as they have happened. For example, multiple cameras inside a hotel lobby and office picked up a predator who tried to assault a female hotel clerk earlier this year.
So while you can blanket your property in surveillance, video is only as good as the security protocols attached to it. If you have cameras placed but no one is watching them, then no one can respond when a sexual assault is taking place.
Thus, video works well for identifying attackers, but alone is not the answer for preventing these incidents.
Preventing a Sexual Assault: Create a Safe Environment
Along with deterrents such as video cameras, the company needs to create a safe work environment that eliminates conditions where a sexual assault could happen. That includes making sure that all areas are well lit, both outside and inside your facility. Keeping a well-lit parking area seems pretty obvious today. But businesses also need to make sure all areas inside their building are illuminated, as well. If you have dark corners in the back of a warehouse behind crates, for example, take steps to light those places and do away with nooks and crannies where people can hide.
Overgrown landscaping outside the building can also be an issue. Shrubs and bushes that are allowed to grow thick and high, three feet or more, can provide hiding places. Keep your landscaping well trimmed and low to the ground.
You should also make sure your facility’s doors and windows are kept locked. Install an intercom system that forces visitors to identify themselves before they are buzzed into the lobby.
Employees should also point out any individuals who are loitering on the premises and appear suspicious.
Taking responsibility for one’s personal safety is also a necessary step each employee should take to prevent a sexual assault. For instance, if you work in a dangerous area, make sure you have pepper spray and a whistle handy when you walk to the parking area.
You might also want to take lessons in basic self-defense to ward off possible attackers. But perhaps the best piece of advice is to be aware of your surroundings and the situation in which you find yourself. That includes circumstances both outside and inside your workplace.
If you don’t feel safe walking to your car, then walk in a group with others or find someone to escort you. If you are asked to go into a closed office or room with a coworker and you feel uncomfortable, excuse yourself immediately and move to an area where you feel safer.
Don’t allow yourself to be put in situations where a sexual assault could happen.
On-Site Security Guards
Security personnel are a vital part of any security program. There is no substitute for having a security guard at your location, ready to help your employees at a moment’s notice.
The Bottom Line
The answer to reducing or eliminating a sexual assault in the workplace is not a single solution, but rather the adoption of several protocols by everyone involved. That includes the company, management, and its employees. It starts with supplying a safe environment but also includes employees taking responsibility for their safety.
If you want to learn more about keeping your property and employees safe, call American Security Force today at 855-722-8585.