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Best Practices for Mail Room Security

May 22, 2008
According to the United States Postal Service, commercial mailers represent 85 percent of the nation's mail. The USPS created the B.2.2. Security Initiative for Commercial Mailers, a voluntary mail security initiative, which focuses on national and premier account mailers. The B.2.2. initiative was designed to reduce the risk of an injurious article being sent through the U.S. mail by a commercial mail source. Even if your mail room does not necessarily meet the requirements of a large commercial mailer, examining security controls within mail room helps to ensure the safety of mail room employees, the American public, postal employees, and members of the mailing industry.

Millions of U. S. businesses use the mail. The majority of these have only a handful of persons responsible for mail room-type operations. Of the millions of businesses, there are thousands of large, complex corporate mail room operations who have put into practice well-developed security procedures that can be adopted by any mail room.

Mail room supervisors should determine which procedures are appropriate for their company and conduct periodic security reviews of their operation to identify needed improvements.

Recommendations for General Mail Operations:
1. Appoint a Mail Security Coordinator
2. As practical, organize a Mail Security Response Team
3. Create and/or update Security Procedures, Disaster Plans, and Operating Plans. Keep a back-up copy of plans off-site
4. Train personnel in mail security procedures relative to biological, chemical, weapons or natural disaster
5. Publish an After-Action Report or Incident Report after every incident
6. Have senior management buy-in/sign-off on company's mail security procedures

Employee Security Procedures
Effective mail room security also begins with the employees. Appropriate employee security procedures should be in place prior to hiring a mail room employee. For instance, good hiring practices should include an in-depth screening/background check for new hires. When the need arises to supplement the workforce, make prior arrangements with one or two temporary employment agencies to ensure that a restricted, pre-screened group of individuals is available. Mail room managers should also enforce a probationary period for the purpose of evaluation of employees.

It's also important to establish and enforce a strict employee identification/personnel security program. For example, mail room employees should wear a photo ID badge at all times. Employees should also be instructed to challenge any unknown person in a facility. As much as possible, supervisors should prohibit employees from taking personal items into the main workspace. A separate and secure area for personal items such as coats and purses is helpful.

General Safety Procedures for Incoming/Outgoing Mail Room Areas
When instituting security procedures for incoming/outgoing mail, make sure to notify internal and external customers, as appropriate, of steps that have been taken to ensure safety of the mail. It's also a wise idea to control or limit access of employees and visitors to the mail room. Supervisors should use sign-in sheets, badges, and/or card readers for those outside the mail room. Deliveries should be made in a restricted, defined area. As feasible, the use of video cameras inside and outside the facility/docks is also an effective security back-up.

Most importantly, the area for processing incoming and outgoing mail should be kept separate from all other operations. If a separate processing area is used, it should not be a part of the central ventilation system. For extra security, shut-off points of a processing area's ventilation system should be mapped and included in an emergency procedures handout.

Mail Theft Prevention
Sometimes mail is lost or stolen from company mail rooms, while en route to or from the post office. Such losses are costly to the company and its investors. Following are suggestions for improving theft prevention in a mail room:

1. Don't put new hires in the mail center without a criminal record check.
2. Prevent access to the mail room by unauthorized persons. Maintain a sign-in sheet that includes times of arrival and departure.
3. Keep Registered Mail separate from other mail.
4. Keep postage meters secure. Check mails periodically to determine if employees are using company postage meters for their personal mail.
5. Vary times and lines of travel between post office and plant.
6. Employees caught stealing should be prosecuted. There is no greater deterrent to potential theft than the fear of prosecution and jail.
About the Author
Safecutters Inc., provides an online store of utility knife box cutters for opening shipping boxes and shipping packages, as well as safety knives to open moving boxes and packages. For more information about Klever Kutter and other Safecutters products contact us!
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