All businesses and facilities need to accept visitors at some time during the day – otherwise you would be working in a top security area, and even prisons accept visitors. It is vitally important to manage visitors in a secure way, but it is also important to process visitors quickly and simply. If it is too difficult to accept a visitor, reception staff will be tempted to ignore or bend the systems to make their life easier, and it is at that time that a security breach will happen.
From the smallest business to the largest, most companies still use a “signing in” system at the main reception desk. This typically works something along these lines:
1. The visitor arrives at the main entrance, and possibly has to pass a security point
2. The visitor approaches the main receptionist and anounnces who they are and who they are visiting
3. The receptionist gets them to sign into a visitors book, including car registration details and the time of arrival
4. The receptionist hands over a “visitors” card and points them in the right direction.
Sadly, this system is all to easy to beat. One story I know to be true is of a sales person arriving at a secure facility to which he had been several times before. Although there was a secured carpark, a simple wave and smile at the guard and the gates opened. The same was true at reception – the sales man simply looked like he know where he was going and went straight up to the department he was selling to. To get there he even had to pass through secure doors, which was simply accomplished by timing the approach carefully and smiling nicely at the person coming the other way. Security was breached and nobody knew anything about it.
If you value the security of your business more than that of the one above (and that was a real example from a high security company), then it is important to stop and look at the entrance procedures again, but from a modern technology perspective...
If your entrance gates are controlled by an electronic proximity sensor system, the gates can be automatically opened for authorised vehicles, and security alerted for visitors. Unwanted visitors are stopped even entering the site.
At reception, the receptionist can be warned when a visitor is approaching because they will not have a valid identification card. All staff can be monitored as they enter the building, including timing their entry and exit, and anyone without a card will have no choice but to approach the receptionist.
Once their identity is gathered, they can then be issued a temporary printed visitors card, which will contain the technology to allow them access only to the parts of the building to which they should visit, and to no other areas. The use of radio frequency access cards or identification cards is actually very straightforward, and the cost is not prohibitive, even for visitors.
As with any security system, secure doors are only as secure as the staff who use them. Staff policy should actively discourage the propping open of doors, and there should be a severe warning to staff who let people who they do not actually know or trust through any secure door. If an unwanted visitor cannot travel from one area to another without being detected by members of staff, any likelihood of a security breach is dramatically reduced.
Additional security can be added by using a different coloured security card for each day of the week – any intruders will stick out like a sore thumb!
Only by looking at your security system from the point of view of a determined and confident individual will you be able to prevent breaches and promote confidence in your systems to your customers.
Free Printable Id Cards
Security is increasingly important throughout the health services industry. We read in the papers of violent behaviour affecting both management and staff in hospitals and because of these reports there are a substantial proportion of general hospital staff who actively fear becoming a victim of violent crime while at work.
Hospitals present a unique problem when considering how to approach the issue of security. They are generally large buildings, open to the public for much of the time, and with a very large number of entrances and exits. It is virtually impossible to control access to a hospital without preventing the day-to-day function of the service. Additionally, many hospitals sprawl over very large areas of grounds, with different buildings for different functions. It is impossible for staff to know each other, and with the daily to and fro of patients and their friends and relatives this is a tricky mix.
Reports suggest that violence, sexual harassment, theft and damage are the main problems within a hospital – but what can be done to reduce this crime?
Using access control is suitable in some situations, such as in paediatric units or geriatric units. Also storeage areas, especially those containing drugs and needles must be closely controlled. Traditionally, access has been restricted with a key system, but keys can be duplicated. This is worsened if a master key is stolen or duplicated – criminals can then gain access to any area they want, and all locks need to be re-keyed.
A more modern approach is to use an electronic access card solution. Traditional approaches include bar code ID cards, magnetic strip cards and wiegand cards, but all of these have limitations. Increasingly, hospitals are turning to proximity cards. These can be linked to a sophisticated system, allowing certain people access to specific areas. A record can be kept of entry and exit so that any criminal activity can be monitored and prevented easily.
Where controlled access is needed, an access ID system, linked to automatic door hardware is required, but the costs per door of this come down dramatically when a whole hospital is being upgraded.
The next item which many hospitals are implementing is what is known as a “tour” system for security guards. This involves each guard having their own access or ID card. Checkpoints are set up around the hospital campus, and the guard is required to visit and secure each area in turn, using his access card to “clock in” the visit at each point. This ensures that all of the critical areas are patrolled in a timely manner, and that the security staff are not tempted to miss any important areas.
Outlying areas of hospitals must be monitored by a CCTV system, and this can be linked to an alarm system, so that any intruders are quickly noticed and the security staff can deal with them appropriately. If this is linked to an electronic ID or access system, it is possible to allow access to the specific members of staff who are allowed to the remote or outlying area, without needing to actively involve the security staff in opening the doors.
A complete security review of a hospital will also include equiping key staff members and security with a radio system, so that any suspicious activity can be discreetly notified. This can be added to with a comprehensive panic alarm system. A panic system gives staff access to a panic button in each of the rooms that they work in, so that if a patient or visitor becomes aggressive they can press the button to alert other members of staff and the guards.
A hospital must remain an open building, but using access cards and other technologies, the environment can be made as safe and secure as possible for the staff and the public.
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