How Good is your Access Control? Part 2

by todaystrainingblog

March 12, 2013


                With visitors, delivery personnel, and other contractors, need to be signed in and issued an ID card when they are on the property. Ideally, the card they issued is a self-expiring type that they can’t use more than once before it is rendered unusable with the expired in plain view across the front, or something similar. These cards can be useful, obviously, in keeping those who are unauthorized out of the building or attempting to re-use an old tag – for whatever the reason. On top of this however, is the fact that everyone involved must be observant to the card itself to notice that it’s expired – the human equalization.

                There was a cartoon in the newspaper nearly 30 years ago from Wayne Stayskal, at that time with the Tampa Tribune, that while funny on the surface, wasn’t very flattering to those of us in security. It pictured 2 security officers with dark glasses on and a person in a gorilla suit walking by, with an ID card and lunch box. One says to the other ‘Watch carefully. Sometimes the employees try to fool us by switching ID cards.’ This is a good illustration of what I meant by the employees and security people needing to check to see if the cards are expired. If the cards aren’t checked and someone can walk into your facility with an expired card, then …

                If the individuals are visitors and coming in for a sales call or something similar, then they should be escorted throughout the facility as long as they are there. Consequently, deliveries shouldn’t be allowed to circumvent the access control system to deliver a package to a different department. The department should be notified to come forward to claim their package. And the driver escorted, or issued new access to that new location. Many times this is circumvented because the same drivers delivery day in and day out. However, in today’s environment, you can trust no one. 

                How will visitors and contractors gain access to your facility? And will they be monitored at all times? Are they contractors or salespeople? Are they there to service your forklifts or to make an adjustment to a machine you just purchased? Or possibly are they there to install new equipment and safety/security items?

                Those are all questions that need to be addressed and answered. Will you need visitor badges or escorts? And then which door will they come through? Contractors will usually go through the employee entrance and other visitors through the main office, again depending on what they are there for.

                How secure is your main office area? Can a potentially violent person walk right through and into the back occupied part of the office or are they limited by a locked door with a remote access? This would be the preferable system. But even that is no guarantee of being safe, especially with the high powered firearms that available today.

                I had a client more than 20 years ago who had installed a controlled access system to their back office from the reception area and controlled access to the employee entrance. It was one of the few places in the late80’s that had such a system of controlled access, at least in St. Joseph, Mo. . . . Most people thought it was too much over-kill, but in light of the explosion of WPV in the 90’s, it was a good forethought.

                Access control is not as complicated as most people want you to think it is. Many times it’s all about the 5 W’s and H. The hardest part is deciding which system to use and picking a vendor.

                The questions you have to ask when thinking about access control is the following; who will be coming into your business? What purpose are they coming in for, work, visiting, lunch, sales, deliveries, or an otherwise nefarious purpose? When are they going to be coming in or out? And going along with this is differing levels of access.

                Where are they going to enter or exit? As we discussed above, each level of person entering/exiting the business need to have different areas they can get into or out of the building. Deliveries need to go one place, contractors and employees to another. Sales people to an entirely different entrance.

                Why are they coming into your business? This may be one of the biggest questions you have to answer. Are they coming in to work, collect a paycheck, conduct work/maintenance on a machine, sell you something, or delivery a pizza? These questions will impact your access control.

                Lastly, and one of the headaches you’ll have in deciding, is How will they enter/exit? Will you require card access or simple visualization? Will I be utilizing a sign in/out sheet with ID cards or having them escorted everywhere? If you decide for a card system which one? A swipe for employees or just visual ID tags?

                All of these questions can’t be easily answered in a short chapter. If necessary you may have to hire an outside consultant to discover what would work best for your business. Likewise, some businesses won’t lend themselves to being secured better than others. A retail store for example relies on customers having easy and open access to the store. Consequently, a manufacturing plant or closed office can secure itself a whole lot easier.