Risk Insider: George Browne

Good Risk Housekeeping

By: | April 10, 2017 • 3 min read
George Browne, CFPS, has a B.S. in Fire Protection. He is Manager of Training Services for Global Risk Consultants. He manages fire protection services, and develops and delivers training programs for clients on an individual basis. He can be reached at [email protected]

When you hear the word housekeeping, what do you think of? Do the words attractive, neatly organized and clean come to mind?

At an office or retail property, where your operations are visible to the public, you want the facility to be welcoming and pleasing to the eye. Even facilities that the public does not enter benefit from a well-maintained exterior. While housekeeping can create a good impression, in risk management, there is much more to housekeeping than aesthetics and just making things look nice.

Good loss prevention housekeeping means paying attention to the details that can prevent a fire or, in the event of a fire, minimizing its impact.

Think about what you typically see in your facilities. There could be fuels, including wood, paper, plastic, other combustibles, or maybe flammable liquids of some type. When you recognize these fuels, you must identify why they are there, look at how they are stored or used, and recognize their value.

Packaging materials such as wood, paper or plastics might be used to package your products – in this case, these materials are valuable -, or were they used to ship raw materials to your facility, which would then be considered trash.

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It is vital that you control what you allow in your building and remove what does not need to be there. For those materials (i.e. fuels) that must be in your building, consider how much you need at any given time. Is it possible to limit the quantity to what is needed for one shift or production run?

Look at all of your storage areas, including production areas, warehousing, stockrooms and all closets and rooms used for storage. These areas should be well organized and arranged to prevent the spread of fire; that includes keeping storage out of aisles.

Establishing and enforcing a standard for good loss control housekeeping can also affect the internal culture of your organization. Standards provide people with an expectation of what needs to be done.

Vigilence also includes maintaining storage types and heights so that a fire does not overwhelm the sprinkler system. Rack storage needs to be arranged with flue spaces between back-to-back racks and between the storage in the racks. These flue spaces allow heat to activate the closest sprinklers while allowing sprinkler water to penetrate the racks and control the fire.

Good housekeeping has other benefits, as well. Keeping machinery and equipment clean can prevent overheating that can cause premature failure or provide an ignition source to nearby combustibles.

Maintaining aisles and storage areas clean and free of excess materials provides clear paths for the movement of people and products. Eliminating dust, dirt, debris, or other contaminants in the area can also improve quality control.

Establishing and enforcing a standard for good loss control housekeeping can also affect the internal culture of your organization. Standards provide people with an expectation of what needs to be done. When people are able to meet expectations, they take pride in what they’ve accomplished, and it becomes the norm.

The obvious impact of good housekeeping is a neat, orderly, and well-organized space. The not- so-obvious risk control benefit is that you and your employees are reducing the potential for fires and equipment failures and improving quality by applying a standard that delivers those benefits. That should make a good impression on everyone.

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

2017 RIMS

Cyber Threat Will Get More Difficult

Companies should focus on response, resiliency and recovery when it comes to cyber risks.
By: | April 19, 2017 • 2 min read
Topics: Cyber Risks | RIMS

“The sky is not falling” when it comes to cyber security, but the threat is a growing challenge for companies.

“I am not a cyber apocalyptic kind of guy,” said Gen. Michael Hayden, former head of the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency, who currently is a principal at the Chertoff Group, a security consultancy.

Gen. Michael Hayden, former head of the CIA and NSA, and principal, The Chertoff Group

“There are lots of things to worry about in the cyber domain and you don’t have to be apocalyptic to be concerned,” said Hayden prior to his presentation at a Global Risk Forum sponsored by Lockton on Sunday afternoon on the geopolitical threats facing the United States.

“We have only begun to consider the threat as it currently exists in the cyber domain.”

Hayden said cyber risk is equal to the threat times your vulnerability to the threat, times the consequences of a successful attack.

At present, companies are focusing on the vulnerability aspect, and responding by building “high walls and deep moats” to keep attackers out, he said. If you do that successfully, it will prevent 80 percent of the attackers.

“It’s all about making yourself a tougher target than the next like target,” he said.

But that still leaves 20 percent vulnerability, so companies need to focus on the consequences: It’s about response, resiliency and recovery, he said.

The range of attackers is vast, including nations that have used cyber attacks to disrupt Sony (the North Koreans angry about a movie), the Sands Casino (Iranians angry about the owner’s comments about their country), and U.S. banks (Iranians seeking to disrupt iconic U.S. institutions after the Stuxnet attack on their nuclear program), he said.

“You don’t have to offend anybody to be a target,” he said. “It may be enough to be iconic.”

The world order that has existed for the past 75 years “is melting away” and the world is less stable.

And no matter how much private companies do, it may not be enough.

“The big questions in cyber now are law and policy,” Hayden said. “We have not yet decided as a people what we want or will allow our government to do to keep us safe in the cyber domain.”

The U.S. government defends the country’s land, sea and air, but when it comes to cyber, defenses have been mostly left to private enterprises, he said.

“I don’t know that we have quite decided the balance between the government’s role and the private sector’s role,” he said.

As for the government’s role in the geopolitical challenges facing it, Hayden said he has seen times that were more dangerous, but never more complicated.

The world order that has existed for the past 75 years “is melting away” and the world is less stable, he said.

Nations such as North Korea, Iran, Russia and Pakistan are “ambitious, brittle and nuclear.” The Islamic world is in a clash between secular and religious governance, and China, which he said is “competitive and occasionally confrontational” is facing its own demographic and economic challenges.

“It’s going to be a tough century,” Hayden said.

Anne Freedman is managing editor of Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]