THE ART OF ACHIEVING SECURITY IN A HOSPITAL ENVIRONMENT
SECURITY ON A BUDGET
Hospitals need to provide appropriate health and safety measures that will greatly minimise the risk of crimes or accidents, but within budget. For those institutions funded by the National Health Service, financial plans are only just in the process of being finalised due to the changes published last year in the Health and Social Care Act 2012, scheduled to begin on 1st April 2013. As a result of this restructuring process, local authorities will be in charge of allocating their own budget in order to meet the specific needs of their communities.
STRIKING A BALANCE
Regardless of the available budget, however, there will always be a legal requirement for essential security equipment such as high quality safes for Controlled Drugs. Fortunately, when it comes to installing physical security measures in hospitals, throwing endless money at the problem is not the optimum solution. The aim is to achieve the perfect balance between maintaining a welcoming, safe environment whilst providing sufficient protection for patients and hospital employees, in addition to safeguarding valuable assets such as medical equipment and drugs. Therefore, appropriate risk assessment is essential in the first instance in order to identify the main security risks. The most suitable equipment can then be selected that will meet legal standards and minimise the possibility of crime or accidents in the long term, whilst contributing to an environment in which patients and staff can feel safe.
Hospitals present their own unique challenges in terms of safety and security, not least because they are effectively open campus environments. Staff are unable to carefully monitor who is entering the building at every moment of the day and night and are unlikely to stop and question a stranger due to the large volume of people coming and going. Coupled with the sizeable amount of Controlled Drugs that are administered and stored onsite, identifying and implementing appropriate safety measures is vital.
The most effective solution to safeguard Controlled Drugs is to localise security within small areas through the installation of safes and secure cabinets, as these are far easier to protect than an expansive area. It is vital, though, that the physical products selected provide a sufficient level of security. The Misuse of Drugs Regulations 1973 details the requirements for safes that are used to store Controlled Drugs. For instance, small stocks of Controlled Drug raw materials and preparations must be held in safes that have been certified to Grades S1 or S2 of BS/EN 14450. In addition, these should ideally be constructed from heavily graded material, such as mild steel sheet at least 2 to 3mm thick, and the safe or cabinet must be fitted with a robust locking mechanism. The emphasis on high quality materials and construction is evident in this documentation.
Leading manufacturers of physical security products, such as Securikey, can offer robust safes that are specifically designed to meet these regulations, making it quick and easy for decision makers working in the healthcare sector to specify the appropriate product. Subjected to severe burglary and attack tests, safes such as the Steel Stor are installed in many hospitals across the UK and have a flawless reputation as they have never succumbed to attack. When choosing a range of safes, specifiers in the healthcare sector would be advised to look for features such as a steel body at least 4mm thick, 3-way locking bolts and a ‘VdS class 1 approved’ safe lock to ensure optimum security. A dual locking facility will enhance the level of security still further, and it is also greatly beneficial to have a choice of locking systems, from various electronic locks to wheel combination locks, so that the safe precisely meets the needs of the individual department or hospital.
However, it is not just Controlled Drugs that need to be kept secure. Hospitals are filled with expensive equipment that could either be stolen or that would be dangerous or costly to replace if tampered with. In addition, the presence of newborn babies unfortunately brings the threat of abduction if strangers were able to gain access to the maternity wards. Therefore, it is important that rooms containing medical equipment, babies and infants remain inaccessible to anyone who is not a member of staff. One of the most simple and effective methods is to put access control measures in place using mechanical digital door locks, which are utilised in numerous hospitals across the UK and offer a number of advantages over traditional key lock systems. As well as being self-contained, these locking systems eradicate the need for keys, cards or tokens which can get lost, damaged or stolen. If codes are compromised, security can be reinstated quickly and easily. Mechanical digital door locks can be installed either internally or externally and leading suppliers offer high quality, industrial stainless steel options that are incredibly long-lasting and will not corrode even when installed on outbuildings, providing real value for money whatever the budget.
SAFETY AND MIRRORS
Safety and security go hand in hand, especially within busy hospital environments, and mirrors have become another important and cost-effective factor in accident prevention. When strategically placed, convex mirrors can greatly improve visibility and eliminate blind spots, thereby reducing the risk of collisions and subsequent injuries. This is particularly important in busy areas such as corridors and at intersections where there is a high risk of injury due to the large volume of people and the daily transportation of beds and wheelchairs. The choice of mirror is dependent on the application, with quarter face mirrors best suited for corner placement, half face mirrors ideal for corridor intersections and round convex mirrors suitable for areas such as reception for increased surveillance.
Mirrors can also be used as a powerful deterrent for antisocial behaviour in areas such as A&E, which although originally intended as a service for emergency care, can find itself as a refuge for the homeless or mentally ill, or even as an entry point for visitors trying to enter the hospital after-hours. Staff are also at higher risk from patients who may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, increasing the threat of abusive behaviour. Dome mirrors offer one effective security measure, as they provide a 360° view when installed on a ceiling, allowing staff, patients and visitors to better monitor their surroundings.
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There is also the need for safety measures to be taken in the local vicinity of the hospital building. Car parks, drop-off points, ambulance bays and pedestrian crossings can be made safer with the installation of external security mirrors, which will be built to withstand outdoor environments. When positioned correctly, these mirrors will optimise the field of vision for drivers and reduce the likelihood of collision.
With such an extensive range of safety and security products available to meet the unique needs of the healthcare sector, authorities and private health officials can easily purchase equipment that will fulfil their risk assessment criteria and meet legislative requirements whilst remaining within budget. In addition to offering high quality products, a good supplier will also provide extensive advice from initial enquiry through to final installation, ensuring maximum protection for hospital staff, patients and visitors.
Securikey is a leading UK supplier of safety and security products, with a pedigree dating back nearly 40 years. Offering a solution for practically any requirement, from minimal security applications to highly demanding specifications, the comprehensive range of Securikey products encompasses cash safes, fire safes, key control systems, padlocks, personal security items, convex mirrors and digital door locks. For more information, please contact Securikey on 01252 311888 or firstname.lastname@example.org or go to securikey.co.uk
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