Security Tips from Silva Consultants

Reviewing Your Visitor Control Procedures

Does your company have a procedure to "sign-in" visitors who come to your facility?

Most companies do. Unfortunately, the visitor control procedures used by many companies have evolved over a period of years and are sometimes inconsistent and ineffective.

It is recommended that the manager responsible for security periodically review the procedures its company uses to sign-in and control visitors. Here are a few things to be reviewed:

  • Just who at your company can authorize a visitor to be on the premises? Can any employee sponsor a visitor, or must the visitor be sponsored by a supervisor or manager?

  • During what hours can a visitor be brought on the premises? Is it OK for an employee to bring a visitor into the facility after-hours or on the weekends?

  • Must visitors be escorted at all times by an employee? Which types of visitors are to be allowed unescorted access?

  • Are there areas in the facility where visitors are not allowed? If so, where are these areas?

  • Do visitors need to be issued safety equipment or to receive any special type of safety training?

  • Are there any age restrictions on visitors? Can an employee bring his or her children into the facility as visitors?

  • Are packages carried by visitors, including briefcases and purses, subject to inspection as the visitor leaves the premises?

Here are some suggestions for effective visitor control procedures:

  • A complete set of written visitor procedures should be prepared and distributed to all employees. These procedures can be included in an overall employee "security handbook" or distributed separately.

  • All visitors to the facility should be required to sign-in when they come to the facility, and sign-out when they leave. For best security, the receptionist or security officer, not the visitor, should enter information into the visitor log.

  • The visitor log should include the following information at a minimum: date, time visitor arrived/departed, visitor name, visitor company affiliation, name of company sponsor, and sponsor's telephone number.

  • You may wish to consider the use of a computer-based visitor logging system instead of the traditional manual visitor log book. These systems allow visitors to be registered on a computer, and a visitor badge to be automatically printed. (For more information, see related article: Introduction to Electronic Visitor Management Systems)

  • All visitors should be issued a visitor badge. Visitor badge should include date, visitor name, and name of company sponsor. You may wish to consider the use of a "self-expiring" type of visitor badge. These badges automatically expire after a certain number of hours, preventing the badge from being reused on another day.

  • Non-escorted visitors should be issued a different type of identification badge than regular escorted visitors. Frequent visitors to the facility, such as janitors and service people, should be issued a permanent vendor identification badge. If your company uses photo identification badges for employees, a similar type of photo identification badge should be produced for permanent vendors.

  • All visitors should be required to sign-out. At the end of each shift, the security officer or receptionist should run a tally of the visitor log to determine which visitors, if any, are still in the building. (The computer-based visitor logging system described above allows this report to be produced in a matter of seconds.)

  • Visitors who have failed to sign-out should be identified. The employee who sponsored the visitor should be contacted and reminded that they are responsible for assuring that visitors follow the proper procedures.

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