Security Assessment And Response

Protecting people, property and products

Since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, heightened security measures have been implemented anywhere deemed a likely place for attack, such as airports, stadiums and shopping malls, to name a few. Though industrial gas facilities may escape the scrutiny of the general public, the dangers posed by the large quantities of high-pressure gases stored and produced at such facilities, if in the wrong hands, should never be overlooked. To counteract this threat, Air Products has undergone an extensive review of its security methods to protect its people, property, information and corporate reputation. What we learned in the process may help other GAWDA members, regardless of company size, develop measures of protection.

A qualification process identifies legitimate customers, questionable purchasers or orders that need follow-up, and customers without the knowledge or ability to provide proper security techniques.

Air Products’ Global Security Response permeates all areas of the company and is broken down into these four components:

  1. Employee Security
  2. Global Operations Security
  3. Product Transactions
  4. Third-Party Warehouses

Employee Safety Initiative
The first step is to ensure the safety of employees. As such, Air Products issued photo identification badges to each of its 20,000 employees worldwide. Complete with the employee’s name, base location and picture, each badge is also attached to a proximity access card. Badges are color-coded to differentiate employees (white or green) from visitors (yellow) and contractors (blue).

Contractors in Air Products’ North American facilities are now subject to the Contractor Background Screening Program, a much more thorough inspection of personal histories. The program first looks to validate the contractor’s Social Security number, then checks for any felony and misdemeanor convictions in areas such as theft, dishonesty, assault, drug possession or drug trafficking.

Enhanced human and electronic surveillance are utilized to maintain security, including a remote monitoring system that monitors 400-plus cameras. Enhanced human and electronic surveillance are utilized to maintain security, including a remote monitoring system that monitors 400-plus cameras.
Enhanced human and electronic surveillance are utilized to maintain security, including a remote monitoring system that monitors 400-plus cameras.

Another important part of the employee safety initiative was development and implementation of training modules on employee security awareness and general traveling security. Employees who must travel to high-risk regions of the world undertake an even more in-depth training program.

The company works with outside risk consultants, including Control Risks Group, Hill & Associates, International SOS and Stratfor, to continuously monitor global security threats. We periodically execute simulations and drills to make sure that we have the appropriate procedures and resources to respond to an attack. Safety is enhanced through the introduction of an institution-wide Global Security Incident Tracking System and another online system that keeps track of the number and location of individuals traveling on company business.

Operations Security
Security initiatives throughout our operations focus on facilities, transportation and customer stations. We developed a Security Vulnerability Assessment (SVA) tool that looks at four potential risks:

  • Loss of containment of toxic or hazardous material at a facility or during transportation that can result in the loss of life.
  • Materials that can be purchased or stolen and used as weapons of mass destruction or their precursors.
  • Product contamination resulting in loss of life.
  • A terrorist attack on a facility to disrupt the global and/or a national economy.
Example of Multiple=

Physical and cyber SVAs were completed at each facility worldwide, upgrading security where necessary. In addition, a host of Global Security Standards were completed, including standardization around design, equipment selection and security programs. A new Global Threat Warning Characterization Matrix addresses specific guidelines for employees, facilities, travelers, product sales and information technology. All new construction and acquisitions require an SVA.

An online program keeps track of the number and location of individuals traveling on company business.

To further reduce risk, Air Products is implementing multiple levels of protection for each type of threat. As the criticality of the asset increases, it is necessary to increase the layers of protection between the adversary and the asset. Such barriers include background checks of employees and contractors; international, domestic, regional and local external intelligence; increased fencing, gates and locks at facility perimeters; stricter access control; enhanced human and electronic surveillance; minimizing inventories; taking the location and access to sensitive equipment and controls into account when designing facilities.

Facility Security
Since 9/11, Air Products has implemented a remote monitoring system within its Security Operations Center (SOC) to monitor 400-plus cameras in the United States. Facilities are divided into three classes—those for which the SOC acts as a “primary responder,” those for which SOC acts as a “secondary responder,” and those which SOC does not monitor at all but can view and retrieve data. Third-party monitoring companies handle Europe and Asia.

Product stewardship now includes making sure that customers properly secure all hazardous products.

Transportation Security
Not only are facilities at risk; so are methods of goods transport. We redesigned our electronic specialty gases trucks with an enclosed panel design and implemented the use of security cages for shipment of hazardous cylinders. An NA Transportation Tracking program was instituted for shipment of selected hazardous chemicals.

Customer Stations
Although security is usually in the customer’s scope, it is now our policy to meet or exceed security code requirements where we have responsibility for product storage at a customer’s site. That includes making sure security requirements are put into all new purchasing agreements and providing process safety and security support when requested. Product stewardship now includes ensuring that customers properly secure hazardous products.

Security Vulnerability Assessments were completed on all third-party warehouses, and Air Products representatives met with distribution and business managers to discuss, review and implement recommendations. Security requirements are now included in all third-party warehouse specifications.

Read More Online
Safety and Compliance Officers may be the unsung heroes of the welding and gases industry. Meet 10 men and women who work tirelessly to ensure that their companies are in compliance with complicated and often burdensome regulations, and that employees are keeping themselves and everything else entrusted to their care safe. Read “Cultivating Safety”.

Product Transactions
In order to ensure that Air Products is supplying products to legitimate customers with a need for its materials and services, the company reviewed all of its products and developed a list of “Chemicals of Concern,” the products deemed to have the highest risk of misuse. A new customer qualification process, based on the Chemicals of Concern, allows quick and easy qualification for legitimate customers; identifies questionable purchasers or orders that need follow-up; identifies customers who do not have the knowledge of or ability to provide the proper security techniques outlined above; and the ability to quickly address those issues.

The security of industrial gases and the safety of those who handle them are of the utmost importance, not only for the industry to remain strong and viable, but to mitigate the threat of terrorism. These examples are an overview of possible steps companies can take to protect themselves, their property, their employees and their reputations.

Gases and Welding Distributors Association
Meet the Author
William Koch is global director of process safety integrity at Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., located in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and on the Web at