Responding in the right way

Technology provides us with a multitude of monitoring tools to detect and deter potential risks, but who should attend when the alarm sounds?

As a business owner, it’s important to ensure that your premises are adequately protected from threats such as fires, floods and burglary. The shift towards hybrid and remote working has only increased this need, with a significant number of commercial buildings now being lightly manned or even left vacant. This increases their vulnerability to opportunistic criminals. Modern-day technology provides us with a multitude of smart monitoring tools and surveillance capabilities, to detect and deter these potential risks, but who should attend when the building alarm sounds?

It is still common practice, in the UK, for companies to assign members of their team the duty of alarm response, especially if they are in roles of responsibility or live in close proximity to the business location. While this may seem like an innocuous and cost-effective method, the potential risks to both business and employee are, all too often, overlooked.

Risk to the employee

Allowing a member of your team to respond presents several Health and Safety concerns. Alarm activations in the late evening or during the night could result in an employee heading out after a drink or while sleep deprived, with compromised senses and slowed response time. This not only makes the journey to work more hazardous (especially if driving is necessary) but also increases the danger when the employee arrives at the premises. It’s worth considering whether your team are equipped with skills to diffuse confrontation, should they face intruders, as well as their ability to get to safety, should they enter the building to discover a fire. Employers have a responsibility to safeguard their colleagues and failing to do so, by exposing them to unnecessary risk, could land a business in legal ‘hot-water’ in the event of a serious incident. Aside from the risk, asking an employee to take on this responsibility can erode their work-life balance, increase stress levels and leave them fatigued and unproductive the next day.

Risk to the business

While in the majority of cases, alarms being triggered are the result of things such as user error, falling items or improper system maintenance – all of which pose no significant risk to the business – serious and criminal incidents do happen, and when they do, time is of the essence. Slow response or failure to respond by designated colleagues can provide thieves the time they need to get away with equipment, or for a fire to cause irreparable damage to a building.

Alternatively, responders taking the wrong course of action could escalate a situation, for example, attempting to intervene with intruders seen leaving the building.

Lone workers

In the case of lone workers or small teams, a prompt and coordinated response is essential. Critical alarms, where a colleague has become trapped, attacked or is subject to a medical emergency, if not dealt with correctly and in time, could result in life-changing injuries, serious accidents and even death, especially in the case of lone workers. In these cases, a business can face serious criminal charges for failing to meet its duty of care, even facing prosecution under the Corporate Manslaughter and Homicide Act of 2007.

What’s the alternative?

Professional key holding and alarm response companies, like MAR FM, offer a safer, more reliable alternative to in-house solutions. In the event of alarm activation, these service providers immediately dispatch security operatives to the site. Equipped with the knowledge to effectively determine the cause of alarm codes, and professionally trained to handle serious emergency and criminal situations, these teams will remain on-site until the incident is resolved. Following the event, the business will be provided with an in-depth report, detailing activated zones and an assessment of the building.

By engaging with a professional security business such as MAR FM, clients can rest easy, knowing their premises and colleagues are in safe hands.

You can find out more about MAR’s security services here.

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