CFATS E-News: SAFETY Act -- Not All Designations and Certifications are Created Equal

April 21, 2010
The SAFETY Act sets up a formal process for the Department of Homeland Security to evaluate products and services that are used in an anti-terrorism capacity.

Congress passed the SAFETY Act as part of the Homeland Security Act of 2002.  Technically, SAFETY stands for Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies.  It was passed in an effort to ensure the development of effective technologies to fight terrorism would not be stunted by the threat of crippling law suits seen after 9/11 and was meant to protect technology providers as well as the businesses and facilities using them. 

The SAFETY Act sets up a formal process for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to evaluate products and services that are used in an anti-terrorism capacity.  Products and services must go through a stringent DHS review and provide proven efficacy data in order to be designated as a Qualified Anti-Terrorism Technology (QATT).  The QATT provider’s SAFETY Act benefits would also extend to their customers. As a result businesses and facilities falling under chemical security mandates can obtain enhanced litigation protection by using SAFETY Act-designated products and services.

There are different levels of SAFETY Act coverage, and companies and organizations should strive for the most protection possible.  The three levels of QATT include:

    • Developmental Testing and Evaluation (DT&E) Designation – This means the technology or service shows promise, but there is still need for additional proof of effectiveness.  The designation may be limited or provided for a limited time, and provides limited liability in the event of an act of terrorism involving the company’s QATT.
    • Designation – The technology or service shows proven effectiveness, and coverage provides limited liability in the event of an act of terrorism involving the company’s QATT.
    • Certification – There is a high confidence the technology or service will continue to be effective, and there is a presumption that any lawsuit filed against the company following an act of terrorism involving the QATT should be immediately dismissed.

Certification is the highest level of coverage, and products and services that are both designated and certified by DHS provide businesses with the best protection against litigation in the event of a terrorist act.  A security service provider that has been designated and certified to provide a comprehensive package of services including assessment, integration, installation, technology selection and maintenance – and that also installs designated and certified products – provides the greatest and most wide-ranging protection. 

Industry QATT providers may have designations and/or certifications covering one or two technologies rather than comprehensive electronic security services coverage. QATT designations will differ and upon implementation may leave a business or facility open to litigation and potentially catastrophic losses. For example some industry organizations and associations may offer QATT designations for security advice however this coverage may not extend to the actual deployment of the electronic security services. 

Businesses and facilities must be careful in selecting security partners and consultants to make sure that they are getting maximum protection under the SAFETY Act.  DHS lists SAFETY Act designated and certified products and services on its website at

Things to remember about the SAFETY Act:

  • It only covers terrorist events. It does not cover damage due to accidents, theft, trespassing, vandalism, etc.
  • Products and services have to be designated as a QATT by DHS.
  • Security providers with designations and certifications for their services, advice, and products provide the greatest degree of overall protection.
  • End users need to select security partners possessing SAFETY Act status – and ask questions regarding the scope of the QATT’s coverage.
To view the complete CFATS e-newsletter this article was featured in, click here.

Ryan Loughin is Director of Petrochemical & Energy Solutions for the Advanced Integration division of ADT– He provides security education to CFATS and MTSA-affected companies and is a member of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association (NPRA), Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Associates (SOCMA), Energy Security Council (ESC) and American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS). Loughin has also completed multiple levels of CVI Authorized User training (Chemical- Terrorism Vulnerability Information) which was authored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

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