MISSION PREVENTIVE SAFETY AND SECURITY

BACKGROUND

Do you know in which natural & human induced hazards your organization and branches are living in? Are the buildings employees are working from safe from perceived disasters?  Has risk assessment been done? Has each organization/branch formulated a mandatory Contingency, Response & Business Continuity Plan?  Do you have trained immediate response teams with equipment within your organization to control and manage disasters? Are the gaps/weaknesses known to you?  If the answer to any or all the queries is NO, then his letter requires your immediate attention and prompt action.

Banking system is the lifeline of financial system in the country. Its safety security from all the manmade and natural hazards is essential protection of its employees and the client ensuring this is of foremost concern to the bank’s management.

Digital security is quite well managed and highly centralized whereas physical security is managed in a different manner and is also outsourced at times. Assessment of the security needs of the premises offering financial services has to be based on proper threat assessment and environmental factors which many of the services providers overlook. This can harm the continuity of the system and services, and huge consequential losses can be there on account of this lackadaisical approach.

 Developing countries, like India suffer the greatest cost when a disaster strikes - more than 95% of all deaths caused by disasters/ accidents occur in developing countries and losses due to natural disasters are 20 times greater.  In other words, a disaster can be defined as any tragic event involving at least one victim of circumstance, such as accident, fire, terrorist attack or explosion.  Disasters threaten sustainable economic development worldwide.  Although natural disasters like earthquakes, cyclones, floods, etc. because more havoc, their occurrence has low probability.  Whereas fires, accidents, building collapse, etc. cause lesser number of casualties but their occurrence is more frequent.  It is the ignorance of community and the establishment, neglect of assessing the risks and not taking preventive and mitigation measures against perceived natural and human induced disasters that developing countries are suffering more.  We cannot prevent disasters from happening, but can certainly take mitigation and capacity development measures, like risk assessment to minimize loss of lives, damage to infrastructure and environmental degradation. It is time for the management of public sector undertakings, banks and others to seriously take note of the existing hazards they are living in, make contingency,   response and business continuity plan and get them tested through third party audit by experts and through regular conduct of mock exercises!! 


Need for Disaster Management Plans and DM Audit. 

Due to its geo-physical and geo-climatic conditions, India is prone to almost all types of hazards, be it natural and human induced.  58.6% of land mass in India comes under Zone III, IV and V for seismicity, i.e., high risk probability, 12% is prone to floods, out of 7156 km of coast line, 5700 km is prone to Cyclones and Tsunami, 8% of hills in North, NW and West Coast are vulnerable to landslides. India is also prone to various types of human induced disasters, like fires, terrorist related disasters, building collapse, accidents, etc. The loss in terms of private, community and public assets has been astronomical. This surmises that the buildings, infrastructures and permanent structures should be as per national building code, approved by Union Urban Development Ministry.

  •  It is said that earthquakes do not kill people.  It is badly designed buildings which take the toll.  The National Building Code of India lays down a set of minimum provisions to which the buildings should be designed to protect the safety of the public.   Part IV of the code relates specifically to fire protection and Clause 9 to 'Requirements of Educational buildings' provides guidelines on fire safe building designs. Some of the States like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, etc. have passed Fire Service Acts, making these guidelines mandatory provisions. The fire license is issued based on the adherence to National Building Code provisions, with respect to fire safety. In case of industrial buildings the requirements of factories rules, Oil Industry Safety Directorate guidelines have also to  be complied with additionally wherever applicable.

  • Keeping in view the above hazards and various socio economic, environment and awareness vulnerabilities of various States/UTs and consequent risk assessment analysis, Govt. of India has given certain directions/guidelines for taking preventive and mitigation measures. As per Sections 37 and 40 of the Disaster Management Act 2005, it is mandatory for all organizations, offices, commercial and residential buildings to have a Contingency &Response Plan.  As per Para 9.1.1 of Chapter 9 of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Guidelines on Earthquake, Disaster and Response Plan is required to be prepared for all school buildings /malls/entertainment cine-plexes /office /commercial complexes.  The main purpose is to prevent loss of avoidable casualties during disasters.  We cannot make a disaster to happen to check our Plans and status of preparedness.  Third Party Audit and conduct of Mock Exercises are some of the time tested tools world-over to test the Plans for their workability during actual disasters.  

HARDICON Limited – a joint venture company of IFCI Ltd., SIDBI, SBI, PNB, besides several PSU Banks and State Level Institutions viz. HFC, HSIIDC and DFC of the two State Governments - is conducting Disaster Management, Fire Safety and Security Audit with the aim of preparing top management of corporations from any eventual disaster that might strike them un-prepared. The aim is to check the preparedness and have the contingency plan in place.

Aim 

The aim of conducting Disaster Management, Fire Safety and Security Audit is to find the status of preparedness & find gaps so that preventive and mitigation measures can be undertaken in time.  

Why Audit

Benefits of Security Audits

  • Key source of information for safety &security review
  • Demonstrates senior management commitment and communication
  • Improves personnel awareness, participation and motivation
  • Provides opportunities for continuous improvement
  • Improves customer confidence and satisfaction
  • Improves operational performance

Audit results are a major input into the security review process. The Audit Measures must be reviewed for strengths and weaknesses and opportunities for improvement. This information will be reviewed and the management would take appropriate action.

  • Time and training allowed for conducting audits is one of the ways management shows its commitment.

  • If the purpose of the audit is properly communicated and employees realise that the audit is not an evaluation of personnel performance, they are more likely to discuss weak areas and opportunities for improvement.

  • This should then lead to improvement in the operational performance, and a reduction in the number and nature of security incidents, and therefore improve customer satisfaction.


Scope

The scope of DM and Security Audit will cover the following:

  • Perusal of the Contingency & Response Plan of the Organization/Bank.  A template will be given, if it is not existing.  One sample template of contingency & Response Plan of an Office/Bank is attached at Appendix ‘A’.

  • Check response and mitigation plans. Check list for self-audit is given in the Plan, for preparation by the Office/Bank. 
  • Identifying the people who are risk for each hazard.

  • In the response plan, assessment of response plan, composition of various teams, like early warning, search and rescue, communication and first aid will be checked and randomly roles & responsibilities of some team members will be checked.  Status of resource inventory and additional requirements will also be determined.

  •  In the mitigation plan, check lists for fire safety, data safety, building safety, safety of vaults and lockers (for Banks only) will be checked.  The resource map, hazard map and safety route map and meeting place map will also be perused.

  • Evacuation Plan will be tested through mock exercise by the experts, if desired by the Management.

  • Fire and safety detection facilities will be checked and fire safety equipment tested for its functionality.

  • Training of Response Teams and general awareness program for all employees carried out by the organization will be seen.

  • Physical inspection of the Bank/office/organization from DM, safety and security point of view will be carried out, existing gadgets tested and new ones suggested reinforcing security. 

In the end, it is advisable to act now and find out the status of preparedness to perceived disasters, rather than repent later when the water had flown over the head, after the disaster has struck.  Disasters can be termed like God, which we know is existing but is invisible.  It is hoped the Head of the Organizations will take note of the seriousness of the matter and initiate action of organizing DM and security audit. Enclosed please find a news report of Times of India (July, 14, 2014) in which CGM, SBI has ordered ‘Fire Audit’ in its branches after the recent fire inSBI building Chennai. A stich in time would be more apt than ignoring this communication as the consequences are very difficult to face. Hardicon being a PSU had taken the lead by bringing to the Banks a programme with the help of top experts of National Disaster Management Authority in the field of Fire Safety & Disaster Management.

                                                           
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