Companies Reassess Security

In the wake of the Algerian hostage-taking, businesses look more closely at facilities in trouble spots.

Companies are reinforcing security at their facilities in the world’s trouble spots and reviewing evacuation plans after at least 23 workers were killed in an attack on a natural gas plant in Algeria.

The incident is prompting businesses operating in North Africa and other politically volatile regions to enact safety programs to protect employees, said Tim Husted of Carlson Wagonlit Travel. Companies are “very aware” of the militant attacks and are carrying out contingency plans, which may include relocation of non-essential personnel, he said in a telephone interview.

‘Emerging Dangers’

“There are new dangers, emerging dangers, and in many cases, the companies and organizations just are ill-equipped to handle that increased threat,” said Bruce Branson, associate director of the Enterprise Risk Management Initiative at the Poole College of Management at North Carolina State University in a telephone interview.

Hindering Repairs

MTN Group Ltd., Africa’s largest mobile-phone operator, said such attacks are hampering its abilities to provide service in Nigeria. The Johannesburg-based company has suffered damage to its fiber-optic network with more than 70 cuts to lines a month nationwide, it said last year. Bomb and gun attacks blamed on Islamist militants have hindered repairs and slowed new construction.

Panic Buttons

Remote facilities like the gas plant in Algeria, where help is not close at hand, get special attention. Buildings are reinforced and technology is used to control access to the perimeter and interior of the facility, including alarm systems, panic buttons, and retinal or fingerprint-scanning systems to secure doors. Cameras can stream live images of the premises to security monitors anywhere in the world, Karson said.

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