The 2019 SafeMail® Mail Security Survey revealed that more than one-third of U.S. organizations surveyed had received at least one mail threat, including hazardous mail and hoaxes, within the past year. Those interviewed included mailroom managers and facilities and securities managers from a variety of service sectors, including government, financial services, and manufacturing. The same survey revealed that 48% of organizations screen only some or none of their mail for hazards
While we hear a lot about threats to digital mail, threats to mailroom security concerns still standstill. These include a letter or package bombs, chemical threats, biological threats, radiological threats, and mail theft.
Mail screening is just one of a suite of processes of mailroom screening to tend to if you want optimal security for your mailroom. But if you’re like many mailroom managers, just keeping up with the chaos of the day-to-day activity is enough to pack your days full. So how do you improve mailroom safety with only limited time to do so?
Mailroom Security Handbook
Mailroom security is essential. That is why we have created a mailroom security handbook that can help you with mailroom screening. It is necessary to follow mailroom security procedures to keep your space safe.
1. Assess your Risks
Mailroom security is essential, and your security plan will look different depending on your organization’s risk profile. Perpetrators of mail threats could include terrorists, homegrown extremists, disgruntled employees, ex-employees, or people who have a vendetta against your organization. Consider the following factors as you assess your risks from these potential perpetrators:
• Public profile — If you’re a dance studio in Beaver, Utah, you probably have less to worry about than a congressional office in Washington, D.C. Some industries—such as banking, legal, and transportation—loom more extensive in the public eye and tend to be more vulnerable to threats.
• Location — Per our example above, location matters. Organizations in urban areas are more prone to mailroom threats than those in more rural areas.
• Symbolism — If your organization is associated with something controversial, it could still be a target no matter how small or rural it is. An abortion clinic or a small non-profit to help immigrants might be the subject of mail attacks because of the fraught issues they represent.
• Mail volume — This one is simply a game of odds. If you get massive volumes of mail, it follows that you’ll have a higher chance of getting a dangerous piece of mail.
If your risk for mailroom security profile is high, you’ll need to raise your standards accordingly, augmenting your processes with sophisticated mail scanning equipment if appropriate.
Be mindful that your risk levels could change. For example, if your organization shakes up the staff with hirings and firings, or if they release a controversial press release, you’ll want to alert your staff to increased risks.
2. Streamline Your Workflow
Sloppy or clumsy processes create security gaps. Carefully define proper procedures for receiving, sorting, storing, and delivering mail and packages. We’ve seen some pretty chaotic mailrooms with archaic equipment, cramped or haphazard sorting areas, undefined receiving areas, and unsecured package storage areas.
Don’t be one of those. Organizing processes and physical spaces help reduce risks for errors and security breaches. If you haven’t integrated a cloud-based package tracking system yet, consider doing so. It can go a long way in improving your workflow. The software can generate automatic emails to recipients when you scan incoming mail, letting them know that their mail has arrived. With a few keystrokes, they can signal their intentions for the package (Receive connect).
The software can also track how long a package has been sitting around waiting for pick up. In addition, many of these software suites include machine vision to track packages and assets with a simple photo. This end-to-end visibility helps you see exactly what is coming in and out of your mailroom.
3. Define Communication Processes
Things can fall through the cracks if mailroom employees don’t know who to report suspicious mail to. Ensure that employees on every shift (including graveyard) know exactly who to contact and how to reach them if they have concerns. Clearly define which types of threats must be escalated higher up the chain of command.
4. Train Your Employees
Do your employees know what constitutes a suspicious package? If you have screening equipment, do they know how to use it? How do they handle suspicious powders or liquids? Explosives? How do they report missing packages? Are they cautious of mailroom security best practices? Knowledge is power, and your employees need to know how to handle the full range of potential mail threats. This can be accomplished through thorough staff training.
Ensure that these trainings are integrated into new employees' onboarding process and that you regularly hold refresher courses. You should also conduct drills so that employees can put what they have learned into practice. This can help get those processes into their “muscle memory.” Appoint someone with the proper credentials to develop and offer this training and run the drills (or consider outsourcing it to a qualified company).
5. Post-Safety Guidelines
Post threat mitigation steps in conspicuous places in your mailroom. This helps keep mailroom safety measures the top of mind for your employees and gives them step-by-step guidance that they can refer to if a threat arrives. Because these experiences can induce panic, posted refreshers can help people stay calm and follow directions.
It has been said that complacency is the enemy of security. Mail attacks will undoubtedly continue—and in many cases, with greater sophistication. You need to take mailroom security measures to avoid any security hazard. However, proactive preparation can help safeguard your staff, residents, and facilities and give you greater peace of mind.