protecting your employees and securing your mail center
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Protecting your Employees and Securing your Mail Center. What constitutes a suspicious letter or package?. If you receive a suspicious letter or package: Stop - Don’t handle it Isolate it immediately Don’t open, smell, or taste Activate your emergency plan Notify a supervisor.

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what constitutes a suspicious letter or package
What constitutes a suspicious letter or package?

If you receive a suspicious letter or package:

  • Stop - Don’t handle it
  • Isolate it immediately
  • Don’t open, smell, or taste
  • Activate your emergency plan
  • Notify a supervisor
How do you prepare?
  • Identify threats
  • Conduct a risk assessment
  • Develop policies
  • Draft procedures/best practices
  • Prepare contingency and continuity plans
  • Communicate and train
Identify threats.
  • International terrorist
  • Domestic hate group
  • Disgruntled employee/workplace violence
  • Acts of nature (flood, fire, earthquake, etc.)
Conduct a risk assessment.

Your posture should reflect your company’s mission

Develop policies.
  • Policy – a plan or guiding principle
  • Address areas identified as priorities in risk assessment
  • Get support from upper management and key officials
  • Examples:
    • Access to mail center
    • X-ray of packages
    • Opening of mail
Sample policies. (Private Sector)
  • Deliveries for senior executives
  • Packages
Sample policies. (Government Agency)
  • Personal mail
  • General policy for mail
Draft procedures.
  • Procedure:
    • Series of steps taken to implement a policy
  • Be as specific as possible
  • Update as needed
Mail handling and processing operations.
  • Centralizing the mail handling/processing operation at a separate location
  • Centralization:
    • Minimizes risk
    • Reduces costs
    • Increases effectiveness
Mail handling and processing operations.
  • Initial sort – by hand
  • Individuals who normally sort the mail should perform the initial screening
  • These individuals are most likely to notice packages that are out of the ordinary
Best practices.
  • Employ professional security personnel
  • All visitors should be greeted
  • Restrict access to facility
  • Keep dated visitor logs
  • Install an intrusion detection system
  • Use surveillance equipment
  • Adequate lighting
Best practices.
  • Badges
  • Lock and key accountability
  • Secure off limit areas
  • Develop an emergency plan
  • Train employees
  • Restrict drivers
  • Establish communication channel
Best practices.
  • Screen incoming mail
  • Open mail in authorized areas only
  • Develop screening procedures
  • Develop procedures for:
    • packages identified as suspicious
    • confirming suspicious packages
    • isolating suspicious packages
Best practices.
  • Conduct unannounced tests for mail center personnel
  • Make available protective wear
  • HAZMAT team information
  • Conduct After Action Review (AAR)
Enhanced steps.
  • Bomb detection/K-9
  • X-ray all incoming mail
  • Detection devices
  • Hold mail 24 hours or until testing concludes
  • Store mail in containment containers
  • Down draft tables
  • Separate air filtration unit
Enhanced steps.
  • Monitored mail operations
  • Safe air room for mail processing
  • Monthly swab testing for mail room
  • Showers and decontamination system
  • Wear protective clothing
  • Duress alarm
Be prepared.

“The government processes billions of pieces of mail each year without incident; however, local, state, and federal agencies alike must prepare for the worst case scenario.”

Sample procedure.(Private Sector)

Mail and packages for senior executives:

  • “Second Screen” bin sorting
  • Visually inspect packages
  • X-ray
  • Quality control
Sample procedure(Government Agency)

Procedures for handling mail:

  • Wear latex surgical gloves
  • Encourage respiratory protective masks
  • X-ray incoming mail
  • Visually screen mail
Necessary plans.
  • Occupant emergency plans
  • Contingency plans
  • Continuity plans
  • Education and awareness are essential
  • Employee awareness
  • Design and vigorously monitor security program
  • Reduces risk for all
Continuity of operations plan.

Implement anticipatory measures

  • Back up site
  • Continuity of Operation Plan (COOP)
  • Enables mail processes to continue
Continuity of operations plan.

Fundamental needs:

  • To send and receive mail if primary mail operation shuts down
  • Advanced planning is important for security protection
Recommendations.(Low and Moderate Risk Facilities)
  • Appoint a mail security coordinator
  • Standard Operating Plans (SOPs)
  • Train personnel on policies
  • Limit access of personnel
  • Identify and escort personnel
  • Establish HAZMAT response plans
Recommendations.(Low and Moderate Risk Facilities)
  • HAZMAT emergency service
  • Post SOP for suspicious packages
  • Phone numbers for emergencies
  • Best practices
  • Intrusion detection system
  • Senior management buy in
Recommendations.(High Risk Facilities)

These are in addition to Low risk recommendations.

  • Alternate mail security coordinator
  • Mail security response team
  • Offsite copy of plans
  • Staff specialized employees
  • Equipment for team
Recommendations.(High Risk Facilities)
  • Publish & distribute information, personnel updates & procedures
  • Cameras at entrances and exterior
  • Require employee attendance at mail security briefings
  • Publish AAR reports
  • What do people need to know to carry out policies and procedures
  • Keep yourself informed
  • Don’t just react
  • Stay alert

Complete training program will include:

  • Basic security procedures
  • Recognizing and reporting suspicious packages
  • Proper use of personal protective equipment
  • Responding to a biological threat
  • Responding to a bomb threat
  • Maintain employee training logs
    • Include date completed
  • Follow up with refresher training
    • On a regular basis

Educate all other employees too

Plan review.
  • Be wary of unexpected packages
  • Notify the supervisor
  • Do not shake or bump the item
  • Do not open, smell, touch or taste
  • Isolate the damaged item immediately
  • Cordon off the immediate area
  • Have employees wash hands
Plan review.
  • Prepare list of affected employees
  • Isolate clothing
  • Shower

Mail Center must evaluate situation:

  • Objectively weigh threat circumstances in order to render a prudent decision
Additional resources.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

FEMA’s Rapid Response Information System

U. S. Postal Service

US Postal Inspection Service

About the US Postal Inspection Service

  • Find us on the World Wide Web: