Seven ways to increase security at a food and beverage facility

Food and beverage plants can improve overall safety with preventive measures such as an increased physical security presence, an open floorplan, and controlled facility access.

By Manny Valdivieso, AIA January 15, 2019

Ensuring security and safety at a food or beverage plant has never been more important. Facility owners are considering how to best protect their product, investments and, most importantly, their employees. Following 9/11, the government increased security regulations for these processing plants, which are integral to the nation’s food supply.

Of course, no amount of planning can absolutely guarantee safety or prevent an incident. However, these seven design measures are effective at discouraging threats and improving security.

1. Berms

These elevated strips of land are a security measure for the exterior of the facility. They serve a variety of purposes. For example, the banks can eliminate a direct line-of-sight from the road to the facility, which increases privacy and could deter an active shooter scenario. The steep elevation also can serve as a barrier to prevent a vehicle from driving directly onto the property or into the building.

2. Fencing

Installing fencing around the 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 that complies with building codes, travel distance egress requirements, and emergency exit door requirements.

4. Security cameras

Installing closed-circuit security cameras enables the company to monitor and keep a record of activity in and around the 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 the 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.

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 also can reduce potential hiding places by properly securing doors inside the plant.

Establish an emergency plan

Establishing an emergency action plan at a food plant and communicating it with employees is critical. 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, senior architect, Stellar. This article originally appeared on the Stellar Food for Thought blogStellar is a CFE Media content partner.

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Author Bio: Senior architect, Stellar