By Joyce Diamadi
The value of accurate records retention schedules cannot be emphasized enough as improper schedules can often lead to liability risk, mismanagement of storage space and excessive storage expenses. These few consequences can have a negative impact on the bottom lines of both corporate and government organizations. In addition, improper or lacking retention schedules could lead to the loss of historical and cultural valued records; this, in turn, could have negative impacts on employees, customers and the community in general.
Each record category identified should be incorporated into a retention schedule with the overall objective to ensure proper record identification based on its respective corporate value and classification into proper preservation periods. This will ensure records are organized in a manner that leads to efficient accessibility and proper disposal or archiving if needed.
Both federal and state resource charts are available online to help identify the legal requirements and recommended retention period of specific records.
The destruction of records typically occurs once a record has met its set retention period. It is at this stage that destruction logs are highly encouraged, as they will provide supporting evidence that retention periods were met if one is ever audited or questioned.
The destruction process can be performed in-house or outsourced via a reputable vendor. Below are some points to consider when deciding if outsourcing makes sense for your organization:
• Volume of records that need to be destroyed
• Frequency at which records are generated
• Employee resources needed to perform the shredding task
• Equipment and disposal cost (paper is now considered green waste)
• Proper equipment if staples and paper clips need to be removed
• Dedicated space allocated for destruction; it’s a messy task
• Storage requirements
• Security concerns
Outsourcing will afford you several options in managing your document destruction needs. This can include mobile shredding, which can be performed at your office location, a shredding facility or a combination of confidential secured consoles on-site with periodically scheduled pickups and subsequent destruction services. Records that meet the retention period should be disposed by a professional company that can certify destruction or disposal.
Shredding on-site via a mobile vehicle offers a high level of convenience, security and reassurance to an organization. Typically an organization will have a representative physically view shredding as it is taking place. A certificate of destruction will be issued once shredding is completed.
Shredding performed at a vendor’s base facility will likely supply the most efficient way to shred documents using a high-performance shredder that will be able to complete large volumes of shredding in a fraction of the time it would take an office employee. This service typically allows for very competitive pricing. In addition, many firms will afford you the ability to observe the shredding performed at the facility via a secured camera or in person.
Using collection containers in conjunction with one of the shedding methods provides the highest level of internal security available in the business. The confidential locking secured console may be placed in various departments in your office and is set up on pickup schedules based on an organizations projected volume. Weekly, bi-weekly or monthly is standard.
Why is document destruction via shredding so important?
• Prevents information leaking and breaches of security
• Reduces risk from improperly
• Reduces risk of identity theft
• Reduces cost for storage
• Reducing risk of recovery
• Saves employee time
• Affordable and cost-effective
• Protects the environment
— Joyce Diamadi is the records manager for DeWitt Records Management, a division of Dewitt Transportation Services of Guam. DeWitt Records Management is a member of the Professional Records Information Services Management, the only locally certified National Association for Information Destruction company on Guam, and certified in the Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act. She may be reached at [email protected].