What do ‘reasonable precautions’ really mean?

by todaystrainingblog

November 4, 2013

What do ‘reasonable precautions’ really mean?


                We see the term ‘reasonable’ innumerable times in our lives. And it’s not all in the same context. We hear it from our parents, lawyers, doctors, managers, kids, and politicians. But, I believe, the term is fairly ambiguous.

                It leaves a lot of room for companies and managers to deny items and get away with not actually protecting their employees the way they should. And it also leaves plenty of wiggle room for managers as well when it comes to following the rules, regulations, and/or laws. What do I mean by that statement?

                That is fairly simple to quantify. Reasonable means something different to everyone you ask. Here are a couple of examples of someone being reasonable or not depending on your mindset;

When do you change a baby’s diaper?

                When it’s soiled – but how long after it is soiled – immediately or wait until the baby is done? Some people say immediately is reasonable, but others say wait until the baby is done with their business. Even others say that it’s reasonable to change a baby only once or twice a day – no matter how many times they go (yuck!).

When is security needed?

                Some managers state that security is never needed and isn’t necessary. Some owners/managers state that security is only a made up profession that is there and fulfills itself by making everyone paranoid or scared. Some say that reasonable expectations say not until an incident or an actual ‘credible’ threat has been received. Still others will say it’s reasonable to not even talk about security because then it’s a liability if they do.

There is no reasonable expectation…

                Far too many companies use this excuse to justify many things and not upgrade or change policies, procedures, or their security program. Even if they are advised by a consultant, manager, provider, or even an employee, they will just let it go and not think about it, even if those policies/procedures/programs are years out of date. To them, reasonable doesn’t enter the equation until it threatens their capital.

                And therein lies the rub. Until an incident actually begins to hamper their profit margin or business is it reasonable to take these precautions. They don’t listen to these people because to them it’s not reasonable to spend money on something that may happen.

                In California a new law states that a business must take ‘reasonable’ precautions to prevent a victim of Domestic violence (DV) from being assaulted at work. Again, what is reasonable?  That can’t, and won’t, be defined until an incident occurs and it goes to court.

                If a DV victim has a husband who may be a certified locksmith, and knows how to install and pick locks, is it reasonable to expect changing the locks on employee doors enough? No. If an ex-employee who works in the IT or security department is fired and expected to turn in their access card, is it reasonable to take no other precautions? No, other precautions need to be taken to avoid an incident.

                Reasonable leaves companies, employees, courts, law enforcement, hospitals, and everyone else wiggle room to get out of a problem. But is it reasonable to expect us as security professionals and others to expect simple ‘reasonable precautions’? Or should we take what we consider reasonable and present it to our company and/or client and then let the liability fall upon them if an incident occurs?

                We just need to ensure that all ‘reasonable’ actions are taken when making these security preventative measures to our companies or clients. And we need to ensure that we completely inform them of the potential risk of not following our advice on certain situations. In Writing, so it’s in plain view.


            Clients rely on the 30 years of skills, knowledge, & expertise of Sollars Security Shield to ensure the safety and security of their property and their most important asset’s – their people. He helps these companies to avoid the multi-million dollar lawsuits that can result from a single incident of WPV.

                Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on workplace/school violence prevention. He has appeared in numerous media outlets in the past 30 years of being in the field and 20 studying, writing, and speaking about WPV/SV.

                Robert uses the 30 years of field experience to give real life examples of incidents pulled from both his experience and the news headlines. Let him do this for you as well. Contact him at 480-251-5197 or visit the website at;


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