Are Your Visitors as Safe and Secure as Your Employees?
Every organization should have a policy concerning visitors to the workplace. These policies not only protect visitors, they also protect the safety and security of your workplace and your workforce.
How many nonemployees are on your workplace at any given moment? Do you know where they are, what their business is, and whether they pose a risk to your workers or themselves?
Allowing strangers to wander through company facilities at will poses risks. Not only can visitors distract employees from their work, which could cause an accident, but the visitors themselves could be exposed to dangers of which they may not be aware.
Furthermore, people from outside entering your facility increase the risk of theft, violence, industrial espionage, sabotage, or even terrorism.
Policies on outside visitors help maintain security, avoid distractions, protect the confidentiality of company operations, and maintain safety standards.
Points to Cover
Visitors policies don’t have to be detailed to be effective. Consider including the following points:
- Visits by nonemployees. State such visits are not allowed unless authorized by the company.
- Authorization procedures. How does a visitor obtain authorization? Who within the company has the power to authorize visitors?
- Off-limit areas. Identify any areas that are off limits to all visitors (e.g., confidential records, equipment, computer network).
- Identification of visitors. Must visitors sign in and out? Must they present a photo identification? What type of photo identification? Must visitors wear identification badges or passes? Must they be escorted by a supervisor or company official?
- Heightened requirements. Are there times when you need to increase restrictions (e.g., after hours, while key operations or processes are in progress, during holidays and weekends, after terrorist alerts)?
- Visits by employees during nonworking hours. Some companies restrict regular employees’ access to the plant or office during off-hours. What procedures should be followed by an employee who has a legitimate reason to visit the premises after work hours?
- Visits by employees on leave. Employees who are on leave may also stop by. Address how these individuals should be treated. For example, can the proud parent on a parental leave bring the newborn to the office for co-workers to see? What access is permitted for employees who are on partial leave and are working at home?
- Former employees. How are former employees treated? Are they treated just like nonemployees?
- Vendors, suppliers, and contractors. Are vendors and others required to sign-in? Is there a color-coded badge? Are they escorted everywhere? Is their access limited?
- Temporary employees. Are temporary employees treated like regular employees or like contractors?
- Visits by friends and family members. Some employers consider friends and family members “outsiders” and restrict their visits accordingly; others feel that with the supervisor’s authorization, family members in particular should be allowed to visit on occasion to see where the employee works. What about emergency situations, when a friend or family member must see an employee immediately?
- Recording devices. May visitors bring into your building recording devices, such as cameras, camera phones, etc.?
- Supervisors’ responsibilities. Should supervisors challenge unescorted strangers who aren’t wearing the proper identification? Should they direct or escort unauthorized visitors to the front office or out of the building? Should they contact Security or escort someone in Human Resources or another department to assist in escorting the person off the premises?
- Discipline. What discipline is imposed for employees who violate the policy or observe violations but do not report them?
Sample Visitors Policy:
No visitors are allowed in our workplace or on company property unless authorized by a department manager. All requests for permission for nonemployees to enter company property must be made at the front office.
Employees who wish to visit the workplace for any reason during hours or shifts when they are not assigned to work must also have the permission of a department manager. Applications for such visits must be made at the front office.
Visitors must wear a visitor’s pass on the jacket or shirt pocket so as to display that the individual is an authorized visitor.
Supervisors are to challenge strangers in the plant who do not display the visitor’s pass to determine their authority for access to our facility. Unauthorized visitors should be escorted courteously but quickly from the workplace or to the front office.
Applications to visit the facility during second or third shift hours must be made at the front office prior to 4:45 p.m.
Visitor safety checklist
This checklist will help you to determine whether you are prepared to keep visitors to your workplace safe while they are in your facility.
- Do visitors enter your site in a controlled fashion, through designated entry points?
- Do you know how many visitors are on your site at any given time? If an emergency arises, you will need an accurate head count.
- Do you know where the visitors are? In an emergency, you will need to contact them quickly and move them to safety.
- Do you have measures in place to keep visitors from wandering into dangerous or restricted areas by mistake? Even visitors to sites where safety is a prominent concern have been injured or killed when they found themselves in areas where they did not belong.
- Do your employees know how to identify unauthorized visitors to your site, and what to do if they see such visitors?
- Do you know when all visitors have left your site?
- Does your emergency action plan address visitor safety?
- Are visitors informed when they come on-site of the emergency notifications and procedures that might apply to them?
- Do workers know how to ensure visitor safety in the event of an emergency without compromising their own safety?
General Safety Considerations
- If visitors may create hazards (such as contractors who will perform electrical work), have you identified those hazards and taken precautions to protect your workers?
- If visitors may be exposed to hazards (for example, contractors who will be painting in an area where hazardous equipment or chemicals are present), have you informed them of those hazards and of required safe work practices?
- If visitors must wear protective equipment (for example, if hearing protection and safety glasses are required on-site at all times), is this equipment readily available and provided to visitors on entry?
- IDville Takes Part in Promoting Safety During National Safety Month (prweb.com)
- Legal Risks & Responsibilities Of An Employer (lawyersage.com)
- How to Create a Visitor’s Safety Policy (safetyxchange.org)