"Want of care does us more damage than want of knowledge." - Ben Franklin

    Security in your mail center is always important, and the holiday season is no exception. Increased volumes in packages, a festive atmosphere and planned celebrations can lead to a lax attitude. Managers must take a proactive approach towards security and awareness.

    The proper response to heightened security isn't fear, but a renewed dedication to preparedness. Managers should take advantage of the advantage of the increased number of packages during the holidays to reinforce the basics. That includes reexamining current plans and increasing the amount of training.

    Review your security plan, and make certain that it includes measures to protect your employees from harm, and safeguard the mail that you handle. Examine the physical layout of your mail center. Ensure that all access points are secured from unauthorized entry. Prohibit the practice of anyone entering the mail center to pick up mail or packages. To handle queries from your customers, construct a service counter (an inexpensive and effective solution is to put a table in front of your mail center).

    The service counter and all doors should be monitored by surveillance camera--an excellent deterrent. However, surveillance cameras make some people uneasy. Inform your employees that the cameras aren't for tracking their movements, but for protecting them from others.

    Communicate and post procedures on how to handle an envelope that contains either a threat of a biological or chemical agent, or an unidentified powdery substance. The United States Postal Inspection Service uses the acronym "SAFE":

    Safety comes first.
    Assess the situation before taking action.
    Focus your efforts on the hazard, avoiding contact and access.
    Evaluate the situation and notify authorities.

    Open, honest communication is essential for a security plan to be successful.

    Be safe.

    Mark Fallon is president and CEO of The Berkshire Company. He may be reached at 508-485-9090, or visit his website at www.berkshire-company.com