Overview: Workplace security is a broad term referring to numerous security issues an employer might face, ranging from technological to property security. It includes ensuring that both trade secrets and physical property stay with the employer as well as protecting employee security, such as from physical altercations, shootings or terrorists acts, among others. It also includes natural and manmade disasters, such as nuclear explosions or blizzards. When an employer knows all of its security risks, it can take steps to eliminate them or mitigate the damage of any that occur in the workplace.
To secure the work environment, the first step is to evaluate and determine the risks that affect that particular workplace. Every workplace is different, and will have different realistic threats. An employer in California might need to recognize an earthquake as a potential risk, whereas an east coast employer may not need much protection against such an event. Knowing the risks for the individualized work area is critical to preparing security measures. Risk determination can be performed as part of a risk management plan.
Once the risks are known, comprehensive plans can be made to protect the employer against each likely event. Then, employers should plan drills and tests to make sure the plans work and that employees understand what they are supposed to do. Having plans for different events and testing those plans helps create sound security processes.
Trends: Parking lot laws allow employees in certain states to have guns in their locked cars even in employer parking lots. Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD) policies allow employees to use their own technology in the workplace, which raises security issues on how to protect data and sensitive information.
Author: Ashley Shaw, JD, Legal Editor
Updated to reflect a forthcoming amendment to the data breach notification law.
Updated to reflect a Mississippi Supreme Court decision involving the wrongful termination of an employee in violation of the guns-in-parking-lots law.
Updated to reflect the forthcoming amendments to the data breach notification law.
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Major, recent breaches at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and UCLA Health serve as examples of why an employer should ensure to the best of its ability that it has taken adequate security measures to protect its customers' and employees' personal information.
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