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Active Shooter Safety

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On April 30, 2019 two students at UNC Charlotte were fatally shot and four were injured when a 22-year-old opened fire on campus. Only a week later on May 7, 2019, a shooting occurred at a Colorado school resulting in one death and eight injuries. These tragedies are the most recent examples of the escalating trend of active shooter scenarios taking place across the country. Sunstates Security offers our heartfelt thoughts and sympathies to all those affected by the past week’s events, as well as the victims of all gun-related violence. We take active shooter preparedness very seriously and encourage everyone to have an emergency plan in place. Terry Hairston, CEO of Defend and Protect, Inc. recently presented a training session to Sunstates management staff enforcing the message that “You never know what you prevent, you only know what you don’t”. Let this be a reminder to have plans in place and know the best ways to respond if the situation arises. For the purpose of this blog, we’ll focus on three things: prevention, preparation, and best courses of action.

Prevention of Workplace Violence

Active shooter scenarios can occur anywhere, but often occur in the workplace. Key ways to help prevent workplace violence include fostering a respectful work environment and knowing the warning signs of someone who might be considering violence. Common signs include:

  • Increased use of alcohol and/or illegal drugs
  • Unexplained increase in absenteeism
  • Resistance and overreaction to changes in policies and procedures
  • Noticeably unstable, emotional responses
  • Comments about “putting things in order” or “getting even”
  • Increase in interest and comments about firearms, other weapons and violent crimes

The most important step in prevention is sharing information with management and/or law enforcement if you suspect anything suspicious about co-workers or unfamiliar visitors in your workplace.

Preparation

It is vital to have an emergency action plan in place and to practice the plan. People often think that an active shooter scenario will never happen to them. Unfortunately, violence doesn’t make exceptions for any person or setting, so it is critical to always maintain a high level of situational awareness. Create your action plan and focus on these components:

  • Preferred method for reporting fires and other emergencies                                                                                                       
  • Evacuation policy and procedure
  • Escape procedure and route assignments (floor plans and safe areas) NOTE: Always identify two exits in any facility or venue as soon as you enter
  • Local area hospital information
  • Emergency notification system that alerts employees, law enforcement, and hospitals

Action

An active shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill in a confined and populated area. In most cases, they are using firearm(s) and they have no pattern or method to the selection of their victims. If you are subject to an active shooter scenario, it is imperative that you assess the situation and decide whether to run, hide, or fight.

  • This is the most desirable option and is where your escape route and plan come in to play. Leave your belongings, keep hands visible to law enforcement, and follow instructions of police officers if any are present. Call 9-1-1 when safe.
  • If you cannot escape the environment, immediately get out of the shooter’s view. Close and lock doors, turn out lights, and put barriers between yourself and the shooter (desk, barricade, etc.). Silence your phone and remain quiet. If you can safely call 9-1-1, provide them with the location of the shooter, the number of shooters and a physical description, the number and type of weapons, and number of potential victims. Do not open the door or come out of hiding until law enforcement identify themselves and instruct you to do so.
  • Do this as a last resort if your life is in imminent danger. Act as aggressively as possible by throwing items, yelling, and improvising weapons. Most importantly, commit to your actions and be prepared to fight for your life.


Sunstates Security encourages everyone to take action against becoming a victim. Prevent, prepare, and act. Again, our thoughts and sympathies go out to all affected by gun violence. For more information on active shooter training and Sunstates Security, please visit SunstatesSecurity.com.

Written by Sunstates Security

May 23rd, 2019 at 7:16 pm

Ready, Aim, Fire (Risk Mitigation During Terminations)

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Called into a termination meeting, an Illinois man pulled out a handgun, fatally shot five co-workers and wounded five police officers. In Orlando, a fired employee returned later and fatally shot five employees before killing himself. A Los Angeles man, fired from his job at an auto parts store, shot and killed six co-workers before dying in a gun battle with police.

Terminations are almost always emotional. The key is to keep them from turning deadly.

Risk mitigation prepares for the “what-ifs.” What if the employee argues and threatens? What if the employee turns violent? What if the employee has a weapon?

Most human resources professionals are caring individuals. They’re not thinking about safety and security, but about treating the terminated employee humanely while following company policies and government regulations. But safety and security should always be a prime consideration when terminating an employee.

Best Practices During Termination

  • Place an experienced manager in charge of the termination, and brief everyone involved beforehand about the process.
  • Always have a witness to the event. In an ideal situation, assign two people—at least one of the same gender as the employee—to help defuse any potential issues. The best-case scenario also includes video surveillance in real time.
  • Position HR personnel so they always have an accessible escape route; they should never have their backs to the wall or otherwise be in a position where they can be cornered or blocked from leaving.
  • Post security personnel nearby, and provide HR employees with a way to quickly call for help, such as a code word or another discreet communication method.
  • Escort terminated employees off the premises immediately, preferably not back to their desks or work stations. Instead, HR personnel should box the employee’s personal belongings.
  • Use a third-party carrier to return equipment, so the terminated employee has no legitimate need to come back to the workplace.

HR personnel should be briefed on how to calm upset individuals. One common, and effective, technique positions the termination package as a carrot by making it contingent on employee compliance with the company process.

Employees should also be trained to look for red flags, even before considering termination. If any exist, security personnel should be placed on alert for an extended period. Terminated employees have returned to their former workplaces with a weapon weeks, months or even years later. Security personnel should receive as much intelligence regarding the terminated employee as possible, including a recent photograph, what vehicle(s) he/she drives, and what to do if the individual is seen in the area.

Terminating employees is a fact of life. Mitigating the risks when that becomes necessary protects everyone.

For information on how Sunstates Security can support your human resources department and other employees before, during and after terminations, please call 866-710-2019 or email us.

Written by Sunstates Security

May 14th, 2019 at 3:43 pm

Managing Modern Threats with Protective Intelligence

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Managing Modern Threats with Protective Intelligence

Social media makes it easier than ever for like-minded individuals not only to find one another, but also to organize demonstrations for their cause. Consequently, more companies are calling on security partners for assistance in identifying and preparing for pop-up protests and other potential disruptions.
Technology can provide advance warning of such threats, but skilled human intervention continues to play a critical role in analyzing data and developing a sound strategy for risk management.

Sources of Intelligence
Advances in technology make security operations centers (SOCs) more affordable than ever, often providing in-house intelligence as needed. At the same time, organizations have other excellent information sources at their disposal for a fraction of the cost.

• Local partnerships. The same technology used to organize protests and other demonstrations also keeps the public informed of local developments. Many law enforcement agencies have email alert systems to notify residents of unusual conditions, such as extreme weather, vehicle accidents, and police activity. Most large cities have downtown alliances for businesses and other organizations that operate in these districts; information-sharing among members is an important benefit. In addition to these publicly available resources, private security teams should cultivate strong working relationships with local authorities, which encourage a two-way flow of information.
• Social media monitoring. Instead of relying on public alerts, more organizations are monitoring and analyzing social media activity, often through a partner with the tools and skills required to mine the raw data. Such monitoring efforts frequently fo-cus on a specific geographic area for a discrete period of time. For example, social media monitoring can provide real-time intelligence to support traveling executives and company events or to prepare for public reaction to current affairs, such as the student protests following the Parkland shooting.

Planning and prevention
Securing advance warning is only the first step. Managing potential threats requires more finesse than increasing the security staff in response to possible demonstrations.

• Staff management. While additional personnel may be required, a large, visible security presence may have the unintended effect of antagonizing protesters. Organizations should develop a strategy for making additional support available and ready to respond, without fueling already-high tensions.
• Building security. In some cases, it might make sense for an organization to go into lockdown mode and to prevent public access during a planned event. Even during a peaceful gathering, companies should have a plan for managing practical concerns, such as access control for employees and visitors and public runs on the restroom facilities.
• Training. Long before any potential threat materializes, security team members should complete training on non-violent crisis intervention. This specialized training teaches individuals how to defuse challenging situations before they escalate into crises.

To learn how Sunstates Security can assist your organization, please call 866-710-2019 or email us .

Written by Sunstates Security

May 1st, 2018 at 8:53 pm

4 New Year’s Resolutions for Security Directors

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4 New Year’s Resolutions for Security Directors

As we start the New Year, most of us have personal and professional goals to which we aspire. For security professionals, we recommend the following resolutions to help make 2018 a successful, uneventful one for your organization.

  1. Update and test the business continuity plan (BCP). Beyond the dangers of a national emergency, every organization needs a current, robust plan to recover from a crisis. In recent years, companies across the country have experienced disruption from weather emergencies. Advances in cloud computing and increasingly remote workforces are two developments that can have a dramatic impact on a BCP. The breakneck pace at which technology continues to transform business practices makes annual review and testing of BCPs more important than ever. Today, the plan should include procedures that apprise organizations of employees’ whereabouts—particularly when key personnel are traveling. Putting a plan on paper is not enough; companies need to conduct a tabletop exercise and drill at least annually.
  2. Establish (or enhance) an active shooter policy. Every company should have at least a basic policy that is communicated to employees. The U.S. Department of Homeland Safety publishes a guide that organizations can use as a starting point. In reviewing the active shooter policy, security directors need to keep in mind that the threat has increased. More shooters are forgoing handguns in favor of assault weapons. By the time police arrive, the assault is typically over. Contingency plans should include safe rooms where employees can retreat. In addition, organizations need clear guidelines regarding who closes and locks the door and when. Similar to BCPs, active shooter plans should also be tested annually with a combination of tabletop and live drills.
  3. Ensure vendor compliance with internal screening standards. Many organizations have strict background screening standards for their employees but don’t extend those requirements to vendors that provide contract or temporary personnel. As some companies have learned through repeated incidents and infractions, external partners may perform minimum screening to fulfill a vague contractual obligation. Outline the basic requirements for vendor background screenings in the security policy. At a minimum, service agreements should include this specific language. Preferably, the host organization should identify a trusted third party to ensure consistent screening standards for all on-site personnel.
  4. Perform penetration testing at key locations. While security protocols may appear iron-clad on paper, most are surprisingly easy to overcome. Resolve this year to put access control to the test: inspect perimeter fencing, check for blind spots in CCTV monitoring. Internal personnel can conduct preliminary testing, but organizations should consider contracting a qualified third party for unbiased reporting. Testing should focus on vulnerable entry points, testing the physical, human and technological aspects of the security program.

For information on how Sunstates Security can help your organization implement these resolutions, call 866-710-2019 or email us.

Written by Sunstates Security

January 26th, 2018 at 7:40 pm

Security Lessons from British Terror Attacks

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The recent attack near a London mosque marked the fourth terror assault on British soil in three months. These incidents demonstrate continuing trends in terrorism, with sobering security lessons.

Today’s terrorists have shifted tactics from well-organized, large-scale attacks to super-efficient strikes executed by small groups and individuals. This change presents the dual challenge of more potential attacks and decreased likelihood of law enforcement infiltration.

In addition, the attackers are methodical and smart, applying the same sophisticated planning as career criminals. Their ability to study and surmount security measures requires consistent creativity from protectors.

Challenges of Concentric Circles

For decades, law enforcement and private security have safeguarded property and individuals by creating multiple layers of protection, like an onion. This same approach is used for the White House and Buckingham Palace, as well as for special events, like concerts and award ceremonies. Each successive layer is more secure than the previous perimeter, with the greatest attention naturally focused on entry points.

“We’ve created our own security problem,” says Glenn Burrell, CPP, president of Sunstates Security. “These perimeters do a great job of keeping out attackers, but they create a secondary target.”

In addition, the May bombing at Manchester Arena revealed another weakness, changing the security game.

“Typically, few security personnel are posted at the exits,” says Burrell. “Now we have to think long and hard about managing exit strategies. For instance, we may need to create another perimeter at the exit to stop anyone from going in after an event.”

Additional Takeaways

Responding to this ongoing threat requires less reaction and more analysis, supported by training and increased situational awareness.

Understand the enemy. Security teams need to put themselves in the shoes of the perpetrators to detect and shore up vulnerabilities. These individuals prepare attack strategies. They study the protective measures in place and adapt their plans to minimize risk and maximize the impact. Security personnel should follow the same practice on a regular basis and revisit policies and procedures to curtail weaknesses.

Look for patterns. During Burrell’s service with Scotland Yard, he participated on surveillance teams that followed bank robbers for weeks as they conducted dry runs in preparation for a heist. Security teams need to watch for patterns and unusual behavior, calling attention to such individuals. This type of analysis allowed the FBI to thwart an attack against a Southeastern synagogue last year. The would-be assailants had been captured on camera and recognized during repeat reconnaissance trips.

Expand training and education. Both security and non-security personnel need to learn about the tactics of would-be attackers. The insidious and pervasive nature of this threat makes security everyone’s responsibility. Employees must also look for and report unusual behavior. Security teams, in turn, need to respond to, and communicate, with such informants to encourage such information sharing.

For information on how Sunstates Security can help your organization review and adapt its security procedures, please call us at 866-710-2019 or email us.

 

Written by Sunstates Security

June 27th, 2017 at 6:09 pm

Case Study: House of Worship Responds to ISIS Threat

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At eleven o’clock on a Thursday night, the local Department of Homeland Security (DHS) office contacted a house of worship protected by Sunstates. The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) had issued a public threat directing followers to burn this institution to the ground.

Sunstates President Glenn Burrell, CPP, discussed and analyzed the threat with the client contact. They concluded that the multimillion-dollar annex faced little risk, due to its state-of-the-art fire suppression system. However, the original sanctuary—more than a century old and constructed entirely of wood—could present an attractive, symbolic target.

Targeted Security

“Such an attack would send shock waves throughout the country,” said Burrell. “We couldn’t add resources to their budget, so we identified the most vulnerable areas and redirected security there.”

The site was already using a mobile management system to monitor inspections and issues. Sunstates immediately increased patrols around the historic sanctuary and added more checkpoints to confirm thorough inspections of the area.

In addition, Sunstates reinforced anti-surveillance techniques with security personnel. While conducting their duties, officers keep an eye out for anyone who appears to take special interest in the building and/or its security. Officers politely offer assistance to such individuals, a gesture that also conveys the vigilance of the security team.

Creative Partnership

By coincidence, the Sunday following the DHS alert saw the launch of a pilot program that Sunstates had developed with the client several months earlier. Sunstates trained ushers at the church as part of the security team. These volunteers completed rigorous security courses, including firearms training and licensure. Moving forward, these individuals will adhere to the Sunstates training requirements for armed personnel—quarterly refresher training, in addition to the annual qualification required by states.

“Even though they’ve volunteered their services, they are part of the security team,” said Burrell of the ushers. “In their role as greeters, they serve as the first line of defense in a potential situation.”

For information on how Sunstates Security can help your house of worship or organization prepare for such threats, please call us at 866-710-2019 or email us.

 

 

 

Written by Sunstates Security

March 21st, 2017 at 6:54 pm

Civil Unrest: How to Prepare for Uncertain Times

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From the Baltimore riots of 2015 to the political protests that continue today, such disturbances are emerging as “normal” threats with which American businesses must contend. In Sunstates Security’s home state of North Carolina, demonstrations related to police shootings and women’s rights have disrupted commercial operations, requiring additional security coverage.

Part of the reason for this unfortunate trend comes from increased polarization. Data from respected organizations like the Pew Research Center shows that the ideological center is shrinking, while those occupying the right and the left are growing farther apart.

Social media has made this volatile situation even more dangerous by making it easy to coordinate pop-up protests. Although relatively small, these gatherings form quickly and drive away customers, so even peaceful demonstrations have a negative effect on local businesses.

Crimes of Opportunity

Beyond the obvious disruption caused by these events, businesses in the surrounding area also need to guard against crimes of opportunity. Statistics show that minor crimes—such as break-ins of vehicles and buildings—spike during public disorder as opportunists take advantage of the diversion.

During President Glenn Burrell’s days with Scotland Yard, he dealt with hundreds of public order events, including policing picket lines. Video cameras proved effective as deterrents because they removed anonymity from the situation; people didn’t want to be identified. To maximize their deterrent value, he recommends making the cameras as conspicuous as possible, while protecting the equipment against tampering. Facilities should post prominent signs announcing the use of recorded video surveillance.

Similarly, businesses need to do more than keep an eye on a civil disturbance. They also need to look for, and shore up, any potential weaknesses that might be exploited while the main event holds the spotlight.

Steps to Consider

Effective protection against these threats starts with awareness, recognizing the potential for such events and evaluating the specific danger to an organization.

Threat assessment. Security teams should analyze the likelihood of a civil disturbance at or near their operations. Some threats are external, such as physical proximity to a courthouse or other government structure, or to public gathering space. Internal threats may arise from negative events, like layoffs, or ideological differences. A threat assessment should include all these factors and analyze both physical and operational vulnerabilities.

Early warning. In addition to maintaining relationships with local law enforcement, companies may consider commercial solutions to monitor social media chatter. Such programs can be customized with keywords and dates to help alert organizations to protests during the planning stage.

Employee education. Enlist personnel in the security effort through training programs. Teach them to recognize warning signs and to communicate this information along an established chain of command. For additional support, a skilled security partner will likely already have courses to teach officers crowd management and nonviolent conflict resolution, which can be adapted for non-security employees.

Additional resources. For known events that could trigger a disturbance—such as a potentially unpopular court verdict—organizations at risk should speak with their security provider about backup personnel, if needed. A larger firm should have additional staff available. Some firms also offer trained special-response teams that can travel where needed for emergencies. Such efforts should address not only threats related to the primary demonstration, but also crimes of opportunity.

For information on how Sunstates Security can help your organization prepare for social disturbances, please call us at 866-710-2019 or email us.

Written by Sunstates Security

March 21st, 2017 at 6:47 pm

THE PHILOSOPHY OF PREVENTION – STAYING SAFE IN A DANGEROUS WORLD

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In most emergency situations, whether instigated by humans or caused by natural disaster, the reactions of security personnel are just that—reactions. A proactive approach, on the other hand, yields better results.

Business Continuity Planning Is SMARRT

How do you keep your business operating if it becomes a crime scene or disaster location for weeks at a time?Image for THE PHILOSOPHY OF PREVENTION – STAYING SAFE IN A DANGEROUS WORLD Post - Emergency Preparedness

Recent natural disasters and tragedies have spurred more companies to develop business continuity plans. Such plans include tabletop exercises, drills, and working with skilled security partners that can provide hands-on training and the benefit of experience and best practices.

According to Sunstates president Glenn Burrell, “Business continuity plans work best when everyone in an organization is invested in security, from top to bottom, management to mail room. An organization is a community. If everyone looks out for each other, keeps their eyes open, and then communicates, the organization benefits. Many potential crisis situations can be defused before they explode. This kind of cooperation doesn’t happen overnight, however. It takes practice and education.”

Sunstates has developed its own business continuity program to ensure its ability to take care of clients in a crisis situation, including creation of a special response team.

Now operating in most regions across the U.S., Sunstates Mutual Aid Rapid Response Team (SMARRT) consists of 81 specially trained and equipped team members whose primary focus is protection of clients’ personnel and assets and immediate containment of incidents. SMARRT is ready for rapid deployment at a moment’s notice, available only to clients.

Active Shooter Training

Among the manmade crises plaguing the nation, active shooters have become a high-profile threat for a wide range of organizations, from schools to businesses. Image for THE PHILOSOPHY OF PREVENTION – STAYING SAFE IN A DANGEROUS WORLD Post - Active Shooter TrainingTraining individuals how to deal with this type of situation is critical to preventing loss of life.

Moreover, the ways that law enforcement engages such situations are evolving, and organizations should evolve as well. Instead of waiting outside, for example, police are now directed to enter the scene and engage the suspect.

But how do organizations keep themselves up-to-date with current best practices? By partnering with experienced security professionals.

Sunstates has participated in active shooter training scenarios at the middle-school and college levels, conducting live drills where volunteers acted as shooting victims. In both cases, the training went well, and everyone from EMTs to the school administration and faculty gained valuable experience.

Sunstates president Glenn Burrell says this type of training is the best available. “Planning is absolutely key, so that if such a tragedy were to occur, everyone knows what they have to do.”

The president of a large community college in North Carolina described the exercise as not only vital to campus security, but also beneficial to everyone involved.  He stated, “It allows local law enforcement and emergency services personnel to become familiar with the campus, while getting excellent training. And it ensures that the college has procedures in place in the case of such an event.”

Written by Sunstates Security

October 29th, 2015 at 6:05 pm

ART THEFT IS BIG BUSINESS, NOT JUST IN HOLLYWOOD

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Museum Security Challenges

Tens of thousands of works of art are stolen every year. In 1998 alone, according to Interpol, more than 60,000 works of art were stolen. In January 2013, two men were sentenced for attempting to sell a stolen Matisse painting. Last December, a woman pled guilty to transporting a stolen bust of Benjamin Franklin. In September 2012, a Renoir painting stolen in Houston was added to the FBI’s Top Ten Art Crimes list.

ABC News quotes Interpol as saying, “Art theft is a crime exceeded in dollar value only by drug trafficking, money laundering and arms dealing. Estimates have put the losses at $4 to 6 billion worldwide.”

The most spectacular art heist in modern history occurred at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston on March 18, 1990, where two thieves dressed as Boston Police officers talked their way inside, subdued the staff, and walked away with $300 million in Degas, Rembrandts, a Vermeer and a Manet. The thieves still have not been caught.

Museum Security Challenges
Theft is not the only threat faced by museums. In addition to art theft, damage to inventory, much of which may not even be on public display, is another concern.

In a North Carolina museum, a Sunstates security officer recently discovered a serious water leak in a storage area. Had this leak not been discovered quickly, it could have caused millions of dollars of damage.

The purpose of art is to stoke people’s passions, and this occasionally happens in the negative. Vandalism to works deemed “offensive” to various sensibilities also presents a threat.

Best Practices for Museum Security
Museums are typically quiet, low-activity environments, making it easy for security officers’ vigilance to wane. Contrast this with occasional periods of high activity, when large crowds are passing through. The contrast creates unique security challenges.

To address these challenges, Sunstates President Glenn Burrell identifies these best practices for museum security:

 

  • Recruit security officers who have a real interest in the museum itself, such as art or history aficionados. Encourage a sense of participation and vested interest in keeping the exhibits safe.
  • Educate security officers about the exhibits, and cross-train personnel in various positions. Visitors often assume that officers are guides or regular museum staff. As part of their PR responsibilities, they should know the fundamentals of the pieces themselves.
  • Quickly identify individuals of interest. Then, have officers trade coverage to provide discreet visual surveillance. This practice requires efficient communication between security officers.
  • Move security officers around the facility to create the impression of a larger staff, which is a useful deterrent.

 

Contact Sunstates Security today to discuss your unique security needs.

Sources:
“Art Theft.” Federal Bureau of Investigation. fbi.gov.
http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/vc_majorthefts/arttheft

Chang, Andrew. “Art Theft: Big Money, Big Problems”. ABC News. March 19, 2013. Abcnews.com.

 

Written by Sunstates Security

May 10th, 2013 at 3:06 pm

ONLY A TOTALLY SAFE WORK ENVIRONMENT ACCEPTABLE TO SUNSTATES SECURITY

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Sunstates Security’s most valuable asset is the people who make up our work force.  Because they are such a valuable part of our corporate family, we cannot condone anything less than a totally safe work environment on the job, and must encourage safe practices at home.

Never in the history of our country has there been so much emphasis placed on worker safety.  Volumes have been filled with regulations, laws, and policies designed to improve the safety of the workplace.  This has occurred because business and industry has become aware of the enormous cost (both personal and financial) associated with work-related injuries, illnesses, and accidents.  At Sunstates, safety is the first and most important factor.  We cannot afford to just be good; we have to strive to be perfect and work diligently to achieve our goal of “Zero Accidents.”

Through the systematic and conscientious application of the Safety Plan outlined in our new and improved Sunstates Security Safety Manual, we know that accidents can be prevented, and injuries can be eliminated.

Written by Sunstates Security

May 30th, 2012 at 7:24 pm