“Want of care does us more damage than want of knowledge.” – Ben Franklin
Security in your mail center is always important, 365 days a year. Increased volumes in packages due to internet shopping can lead to a lax attitude. Managers must take a proactive approach towards security and awareness by reinforcing the basics, reexamining current plans, and increasing the amount of training.
Review your security plan and make certain that it includes measures to protect your employees from harm and safeguard the mail that you handle. Examine the physical layout of your mail center. Ensure that all access points are secured from unauthorized entry. Prohibit non-mail operations employees from entering the mail center to pick up mail or packages. Construct a service counter to handle queries from your customers (an inexpensive and effective solution is to put a table in front of your mail center).
The service counter and all doors should be monitored by surveillance cameras – an excellent deterrent. However, surveillance cameras make some people uneasy. Inform your employees that the cameras are used to help protect them from harm. Open, honest communication is essential for a security plan to be successful.
You must train your employees to recognize a suspicious package or envelope. The characteristics of a potential hazard include:
- No Return Address
- Excessive Postage
- Misspelled Words
- Protruding Wires
- Strange Odor
- Oily Stains/Discoloration on Wrapper
- Excessive Tape or String
If feasible, purchase an x-ray machine, which can easily detect the components of a letter bomb. Train all employees on how to properly use the x-ray machine, and how to react if they detect a threat. The best equipment is useless without a properly trained and alert operator.
Communicate and post procedures on how to handle an envelope or a package that contains either a threat of a biological or chemical agent, or an unidentified powdery substance. The United States Postal Inspection Service uses the acronym “SAFE”:
Safety comes first.
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Assess the situation before taking action.
Focus your efforts on the hazard, avoiding contact and access.
Evaluate the situation and notify authorities.
Next: Steps to take when dealing with an emergency.