Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Turnaround Security Issues

I really enjoy surfing the internet. It is amazing how many unusual places you can find mentions of security issues at chemical facilities. Yesterday I ran into a blog by "Duke of Earl", an HR guy at a chemical plant. His blog was about the current turnaround at that chemical plant. He shined the blog spot light on a security problem associated with those turnarounds; the large number of transient contractor personnel working on the site.

While the example that he wrote about in his blog dealt with pilfering of construction supplies (a not insignificant problem in its own right), the situation that he describes should make security planners cringe. Here is his description:

"We’re a small plant. Our normal staffing level is 140 employees plus about 50 permanent contract folks. Right now we have over 500 people in the plant all day and all night".

If this were a high-risk facility, how would you deal with 500 strangers scurrying around your facility? Are they escorted whenever they are working in or around a sensitive area in the facility? Are the tools they carry onto the site inspected; everyday? Who does the background checks, the facility owner, the contractor, or the sub-contractor? Has DHS checked each one against terrorist watch lists? Who controls the security badges?

I am willing to bet that most of these questions are overlooked or maybe winked at for most facility turnarounds. After all, the plant can only be shut down for a limited period of time, and speed is really the main point of the whole exercise. Who can afford to slow down a turnaround for tedious security rules?

High-risk chemical facilities that use this type of annual or semi-annual maintenance shut down are going to have to include the plan for that maintenance turnaround in their site security plan. The questions that I mentioned above are just a few of the questions that are going to have to be addressed by that plan.

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