The National Association for Information Destruction (NAID), Phoenix, has advised businesses in the path of Hurricane Sandy to consult with secure destruction companies about how to properly handle their wet or damaged documents. Every business has a legal responsibility to record and securely dispose of wet or partially destroyed paper records containing sensitive information, NAID says.
Paper records and electronic devices often are among the items damaged by rain or flood water, and organizations must determine whether and how to restore these documents or to securely destroy them. NAID says it recently published two articles describing the disposition of wet records and how to handle moldy records.
”In the event wet paper records are old enough to discard, disposing of them in a secure and safe manner is still a struggle,” says NAID CEO Robert Johnson. “On the other hand, if the records have not reached their legal disposal date, there are still some basic steps that allow organizations to avoid problems due to their loss.”
In the first article, “Ask the Professionals: How do you Dispose of wet Records?” NAID consulted with legal experts about the retention limits, conditions of records and the regulatory requirements for paper records with water damage. One expert says when records cannot be salvaged and need to be destroyed, “create a complete inventory of the records along with documentation noting the condition of the records, the date of destruction and the name of the service destroying the records.” Whenever possible, a business should have full documentation of the circumstances and decision-making process in the event that issues arise later.
“Moldy records: Hype or Hazard?” addresses the rare but potential problem of mold growing on records that were stored in damp locations or that were destroyed by flood waters. Mold poses a health risk to the business’ employees and customers as well as to the document destruction company’s employees handling the records. Disaster recovery experts suggest wet, mold-laden records be handled with extreme caution. Therefore, NAID recommends finding a NAID member company that is familiar with the destruction of wet documents and moldy records.
According to Johnson, “The worst option is doing nothing. There are many potential problems leaving soaked records around to dry on their own.”
NAID is a nonprofit trade association of the secure destruction industry, currently representing more than 1,900 member locations globally. NAID’s mission is to promote the proper destruction of discarded information and to encourage the outsourcing of destruction needs to qualified contractors.