How Good is your Access Control?

by todaystrainingblog

                For me, one of the biggest bug-a-boo’s in security is access control. It doesn’t matter which client I worked for or supervised, most of the time they didn’t seem to care about controlling the access to their facility. And usually was for the ease of access for employees as well as management. And as always, when something happened it was clamp down hard on – for 5 minutes and then it was forgotten about, again.

                Of course they locked the building at night when few if any people were there. But I also worked for clients that literally left the building open to anyone, and everyone, at night – especially if it was a hot building and it was July in Missouri. And while it may have been a good idea for the employees, it doesn’t make sense security wise.

                I understand that in the hottest parts of the day the temps can reach 150 or better and this is especially true in an older manufacturing plant. But you also have to be considerate of other things as well as the comfort of your employees. My point is what would happen if a homeless person wandered into the plant and fell into a vat of 175 degree anodizing chemicals?

                And using chain link gates over delivery doors doesn’t quite work very well either when someone wants in bad enough to steal something or cause damage. I’ve worked, and supervised officers, in places where the doors were either left open and/or unlocked all night, weekends, and when no one was around! This isn’t just unsafe; it’s dangerous to the company bottom line and employees.

                If you don’t have policies that cover access control, then you need to develop some. While your business may be small, with only a couple of offices in an office building or if you have a warehouse and manufacturing plant. You must, absolutely must, have policies in place for access control, not to mention the rest of your security program.

                Too many times, the security program, along with the necessary policies and procedures, lag behind the company growth. The company may be in the 21st century. However, their security policies and procedures are lagging so far behind, as to be in the 1950’s! And yes it does happen.

                So you say that you have policies for security and access control. Are they followed closely enough? That will be a question you need to ask your employees and supervisors. And ensure that they don’t fibble or lie to you about their answers – conduct a couple of unannounced visits from time to time to find out.

                If your policies call for a door to be locked and secured at all times and not to be propped open, it has to be that way. Your security can hinge on whether or not that door remains secured. As I have said in the past, if someone can walk right into your facility, how secure is it? Read these examples below.

                As a Field Operations Supervisor I was saddled with conducting ‘lock-ups’ of some client facilities after hours. More than a few times I had discussions with tenant employees why they couldn’t prop a door open to run to their car or tape the lock open for easier access for someone. It wasn’t until several incidents of unauthorized access, usually transients or others just wandering about, and me telling the tenant the incidents that the doors remained closed and locked when necessary.

                One evening, while conducting my lock-ups of a client (a major telecom company) that I was approached by an employee I had spoken with in the past, coincidentally ‘lecturing’ hereabout keeping the doors locked when they’re supposed to be. She informed me that a stranger was wandering around the building bothering female employees and asking them if they wanted to take an all expenses vacation to Hawaii. I proceeded to locate him and asked him to leave. He pointed a firearm at me and then took off running. We never did find him (he probably ran into the wooded area and residential neighborhood directly behind the building). Needless to say, I never had another problem with doors remaining locked at that location!

                Another part of this is to ensure that any lock or door mechanism is fixed as soon as you recognize the issue or are told that it’s broken. This should be absolutely imperative to everyone inside the company. If it can’t be repaired quickly or easily, then hopefully it’s not heavily used and can be locked and secured until it is repaired. Again, if it is a main door and is supposed to be secured, then you may have to post an officer on the door for a period of time. Or at the very least use a camera to monitor it. And if you choose the latter, then ensure that it is monitored 24/7 until it’s fixed.

                You should also consider an sign-in system for anyone who is not working at the time, to ensure that only employees who are supposed to be there actually come into the facility. Vice versa, a card access system for all employees with the access limited to the hours they are supposed to work should be considered, with few exceptions. If they work overtime, then the supervisor should have the option of being able to add extra hours and time limits to the cards of those employees.

                If you don’t have a card access system, then once again, you may have to hire a security company to monitor the door and check ID’s or sign people in and out. This would be cumbersome, financially constraining, and time consuming and is likely to upset some employees if they’ve never done this before. On the other hand it can be safely said that this could prevent some incidents from occurring because having a human to check employees is better and may stop someone who may not be as motivated as they thought they were.