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Discuss the Protection Methods to Vital Records in Records Center.

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DISCUSS THE PROTECTION METHODS TO VITAL RECORDS IN RECORDS
CENTER.
INTRODUCTION
Vital records are the records that an organization requires to function regardless of the kind of format it is in (i.e. paper, photo, database, magnetic tape) that must be protected in the event of an emergency or disaster because of the severe consequences to the office/organization if gets destroyed or lost. Vital records may include pension plans, policies, payroll plans, succession plans, and delegation of authority, birth certificates, death certificates and marriage licenses.
Vital records are essential for the continuation or reconstruction of an agency/organization. It is these records that are important in establishing the legal and financial position of the agency and/or those important in preserving the rights of an agency/organization, its employees or clients. There are four methods of vital records protection which includes;
1. Dispersal,
2. Duplication,
3. Onsite storage
4. Offsite storage.

1. Dispersal
During the regular course of business in any organization or agency, a routine distribution of vital information to various locations within the organization for use and reference is a standard procedure necessary for the operation of the organizations to enable reach its mandate. In the dispersal method of protecting these vital records copies of records containing vital information may be routinely distributed outside the agency to various state agencies, other governmental entities, or private organizations. Agencies/organizations that choose these method are cautioned that this method is clearly dependent upon the awareness of all parties and good communication to avoid inadvertent (unintentional) loss of vital information. One other way of protecting vital information by dispersal is by planned distribution of records created specifically for protection purposes. These copies are usually sent to designated offices in other locations until the vital records retention requirements are met.

2. On-Site Storage

Some protection for an organization/agency vital records can be obtained by storing them in storage facilities within the organization like fire resistant safes, file cabinets, vaults and file rooms designed for the purpose of vital records storage, these will basically be determined by the type of retention schedule each particular organization uses. Such storage receptacles should be well marked clearly showing the level of records whereby vital and confidential records are separate from the other records and have preferential access to limit the people who can access

them. These can be access by top record managers and the superior managers of the organization at large to reduce the risk of them getting tampered with. The organization should have a working protection plan in case of a fire, these should include special precautions to prevent fire from spreading to areas where such equipment are located. Records protection equipment are rated in terms of interior temperatures and humidity limits maintained during exposure to fire for varying lengths of time, thus the organization should be familiar with the response time required before the records inside the safes are destroyed thus bringing about the issue of reliable fire contingency plans that include on sight fire extinguishers and water horses.
Close attention should be paid to the purchase of these fire resistant safes and cabinets by the organization outsourcing services by professional companies or purchasing from reliable manufacturing companies that can certify that identical equipment the organization wishes to purchase has undergone specific tests and were able to withstand various levels of intense heat, sudden cooling and severe impact.
The following questions should be asked when contemplating on-site storage: o Will the storage area include proper controls of temperature and humidity levels? o Are there adequate ventilation and filter systems to provide a clean air environment?
These factors are especially important with microfilm, electronic and magnetic media.

o Does the sprinkler system protect against water damage to stored records?(if there exists one) o

Are there electromagnetic fields nearby which may affect magnetic tapes or discs?

o

What security measures are in place to stop unauthorized entry into the storage area?

o

What security measures are in effect to prevent compromise of the department’s computer network? (Those tasked in keeping and protecting records in the organization.)

o

Is the organization safe from fire, floods, earthquakes and other natural disasters? Or at the same, what are the measures the organization has in place to cub damage caused by these disasters?

o Do the filing cabinets, safes and vaults provide adequate protection against fires, floods, earthquakes and employee sabotage?

3. Off-Site Storage
It involves storing records in an offside storage facility that is separate from the central building.it may include other agency buildings within the locality. Neighboring agencies can also exchange records thereby becoming an offsite location.
The advantages of an off-site storage facility are: o In an emergency, records can be retrieved quickly because they are in one location. o Off-site storage facilities are usually designed to store vital records and have environmental controls for temperature, humidity and air filtration and circulation and various other detection and monitoring devices as necessary. o The staff of these facilities is trained in records management and the latest storage requirements since they major on one specialization. o The security is an off-site facility usually has state-of-the-art security detection devices. o Access to the records is restricted to agency designees who have been listed as people who have the permission to access the records.

A facility should be selected far enough so that it would not be affected by a disaster in your immediate area. When selecting an off-site or commercial storage facility, the following should be considered: o Would access to these records be cut off? o What controls are there for limiting access to your records?

o Does the facility satisfactorily control temperature, humidity, air filtration and electromagnetic fields? o Does the system in use meet the standards for storage? o Is the facility adequately insured?

o How does the facility protect against unauthorized entry?

4. Duplication
Duplication involves the scheduled reproduction of records and information specifically for vital records protection, simply by making extra copies of the same record. Because of the increased time and cost of duplicating records in many organizations, this method of protection should be limited to those records for which extra copies are not available or were impractical to make when created. For Duplication to be done the following aspects must be put into consideration
I.
II.

Size and volume of records.
Frequency of updates.

III.

Storage facility requirements.

IV.

environmental conditions

These is generally because of the fact that records can be in different information media i.e.: paper, microfilm, electronic or magnetic.
Duplication of the information does not always require duplication of the original media in the sense that a copy that was not the original can be duplicated given the fact that it entails the same details as the original.

The purpose of duplicating vital records is to reconstruct such records, at

any time, with the least amount of effort, cost, and confusion in case of a disaster or they get lost.
Availability of reproduction equipment in the event of disaster may present a problem. This is particularly true in the area of microfilm and magnetic tapes. Source of reproduction equipment should be made a part of reconstruction planning.

CONCLUSION
Vital records protection is done to prevent the loss of information critical to the daily operation of an organization. By protecting this vital records you ensure that the organization can continue functioning in case of a calamity or to reestablish services after wards.

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