Ensuring security and safety at your food or beverage plant has never been more important. Facility owners are increasingly considering how to best protect their product, investments and, most importantly, their employees. Following 9/11, the government even increased security regulations for these processing plants that are so integral to the nation’s food supply.
Of course, no amount of planning can absolutely guarantee safety or prevent an incident, but these design measures are effective at discouraging threats and improving security.
At Stellar, we’ve built numerous food plants, and we’re constantly exploring and designing new security measures into our projects. Here are seven ways to increase safety at your facility:
These elevated strips of land are a security measure for the exterior of your facility, and they serve a variety of purposes. The banks can eliminate a direct line-of-sight from the road to your facility, which increases privacy and could deter an active shooter scenario. The steep elevation can also serve as a barrier to prevent a vehicle from driving directly onto the property or into the building.
Installing fencing around your facility can keep out potential intruders, especially if it is topped with barbed wire. Government regulations now require food manufacturing facilities to establish a food defense plan, which includes fencing and other protections, to mitigate the risk of someone intentionally adulterating or poisoning the food supply.
3. A single entrance
It’s critical to control access to the facility by requiring all employees and visitors to enter the building through a single main entrance where all who approach can be observed. Architects must be skilled in designing a single entry while complying with building codes, travel distance egress requirements, and emergency exit door requirements.
4. Security cameras
Installing closed-circuit security cameras enables you to monitor and keep a record of activity in and around your facility. Even if the cameras are not monitored 24/7, recordings can be helpful in the wake of a breach or in the event of an investigation.
5. Metal detector
Requiring visitors to pass through a metal detector can help prevent concealed weapons from entering your facility. Some facilities include turnstiles to help control traffic flow into the facility’s entrance.
6. Security guard
An on-site security guard can ensure only authorized personnel enter the facility. They can also help neutralize a threat and/or contact the proper authorities in the event of an emergency. We sometimes design and locate two guard houses on the site: one for visitor and employee entry and a second for tractor trailer entry and exit. (We often incorporate gates and speed bumps in these locations.) Also, some buildings have an additional security guard area adjacent to the metal detector to monitor access to the building’s interior. We designed this feature into the award-winning facility Stellar built for Keystone Foods in Gadsden, Alabama.
7. An open floor plan
Designing an open floor plan into a new facility can increase visibility and limit hiding places for a potential intruder. Existing facilities can also reduce potential hiding places by properly securing doors inside the plant.
Establish an emergency plan
It’s critical that you establish an emergency action plan at your food plant and communicate it with your employees. Many facilities regularly conduct training and practice drills to ensure staff is prepared for emergency situations such as a fire, gas leak or active shooter. This training also keeps security top of mind for employees, so they remember to be aware of their surroundings and report any suspicious activity in the workplace.
Manny Valdivieso is a Senior Architect at Stellar.
Stellar is a fully integrated firm focused on planning, design, pre-construction, construction, refrigeration, mechanical & utility, building envelope, and total operations & maintenance services worldwide. Visit the company's blog at www.stellarfoodforthought.net or learn about its projects at stellar.net.