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View original article from Asia Pacific Security Magazine.

By Gavriel Schneider,
Executive Director - Dynamic Alternatives.

As the field of Security Science and Management continues to evolve there is much debate about aspects that are connected, yet are essentially separate vocations. The vocations that are usually associated with a holistic security management approach comprise of some of the following:

  • Traditional security (including aspects such as manguarding, physical, electronic, IT, investigation, etc.)
  • Occupational Health and Safety (including aspects such as hazard reduction, incident investigation and compliance)
  • Risk management (including business continuity, risk assessment, risk reduction planning, etc.)
  • Emergency and crisis management (planning, response, allocation of resources, etc.)

In order to consider the cross-overs between these fields, I believe we need to look at the traditional tasks performedas part of the security and safety functions. Whilst this is open to some debate, the traditional security management roles generally can be subdivided into the following three actions:

  • Protecting People
  • Protecting Assets
  • Protecting Information

The traditional aim of safety management is to create a 'safe working environment' for staff and visitors. This is often embodied by the catch phrase 'zero harm approach'. As a result of the focus in the workplace, the safety management doctrine usually mandates a focus on identifying hazards in the work environment and then developing management plans which manifest in policies and procedures designed to reduce the likelihood of a hazard causing harm. Similarly the role of the risk manager is to forecast what may go wrong and determine the appropriate methodologies (reduction, transfer, etc.) that would reduce 'high risks' to an acceptable level. Whilst this field is often associated with the insurance industry and linked to financial risk, the modern day risk manager often carries a far broader portfolio that extends to holistic risk reduction.

Whilst the risk, security and safety managers are conducting their activities we often see another role fulfilled by Emergency Managers who focus on reactions should there be a safety or even a security incident. The ongoing debate on whether these functions can be integrated or whether they are too specialised and need to be performed separately by different experts continues to be a reality. From my own experience, I believe that there is much cross-over. A well trained expert in one of more of these fields will inherently have a few generic skill-sets which transcend their specific vocation. In my opinion these include:

  1. The ability to identify internal and external incidents, threats and hazards.
  2. The ability to forecast the likelihood of such incidents, threats or hazards occurring as well as the potential consequences that may arise should these occur.
  3. The ability to develop and apply management and mitigation systems that reduce the likelihood of these incidents, threats or hazards occurring.
  4. The ability to design, develop and apply reactive plans which outline the relevant actions that need to occur should an incident, threat or hazard transpire.
  5. The ability to review and update these forecasts, assessments, plans and procedures on an ongoing basis.

Furthermore, if we look at the basis for most Workplace Health legislation, a few universal trends appear. The first is the guiding principle of accountability which highlights that if a risk is 'foreseeable' then an organisation must take the necessary actions to prevent or manage it effectively. Effective management is highlighted by the term 'reasonably practicable'. What is, and what is not reasonably practicable may differ based on a wide array of variables. It is however, fair to state that identifying a likely threat, risk or hazard and not doing anything about it most certainly leaves an organisation open to legal action should something actually occur. Since the premise of safety is to reduce harm and the premise of security is to protect, I believe that the activities are more closely aligned then is often acknowledged.

Whilst the above break down of five core activities is very broad, one can see that it generally aligns with the AS/NZS ISO 31000: 2009 Risk Management Guideline which is a tool transcending all of the vocations. As such, I would say that the core competencies of managers in these vocations have more in common than is often discussed. Many companies are now looking to cluster these activities under one banner – the SSHE (Safety, Security, Health and Environment). One also only has to look at the way the role of the security manager is evolving in the United States to see that integration and cross competency application is inevitable. ASIS International's Foundation 2008 review the tasks of a competent security manager highlighted 18 different skill subsets which include the four roles outlined in this article.

I would urge the next generation of security managers to look further than their own specific comfort area (guarding, electronic, IT, etc.) and to look to broadening their knowledge and experience. As businesses weather the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), we are seeing a move for more to be done with less. By integrating skill sets and developing competencies that can be applied across vocations, future security managers will make themselves more attractive to companies looking to reduce operating overheads in a tough and dynamic global marketplace.




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