Security at the Front Door


The recent frightening events in France are a reminder to all businesses about the importance of security at the front door.

Spend a few minutes now evaluating YOUR workplace. Then use these questions to guide a discussion at work.

Is your workplace particularly vulnerable?

If you work under the following conditions, your risk may be higher than others’. For example, do you . . .

  • Deal with money or other particularly valuable property?
  • Deliver or exchange passengers or packages?
  • Encounter unstable people (i.e. in law enforcement, health care)?
  • Work alone or with just a small group of co-workers?
  • Work late at night?

Every workplace needs to answer these questions.

keypad lock on workplace door

“A locked door is a safer door.”

Is your reception area laid out in the best way possible for security?

Generally, the receptionist should have a clear view of the entrance, and be able to see everyone in the lobby area. Could someone sneak into the area and hide?

Are visitor waiting areas clearly defined and well lighted?

Is there some sort of barrier between the receptionist and visitors (e.g. a desk)?

Do you have any physical restrictions on who comes into the lobby and who goes through the lobby into the rest of the work area?

For example, does the receptionist “buzz” people in from outside? Do staff members and visitors use an electronic keypad or key to get through the lobby into the work area, or are they buzzed through by the receptionist?

What responsibilities does the receptionist have for security?

Does the receptionist greet everyone? Keep written track of who arrives and who leaves, and when? Do you use Visitor ID badges? What policies are in place for regular visitors (vendors) and family members?

Does the receptionist know about any people who are prohibited from entering?

Does your front entrance have visible surveillance equipment?

Cameras are an effective deterrent; posting a sign adds to the effect of the cameras. Some people even mount fake cameras for the deterrent effect.

After an incident has occurred, of course, cameras are only useful if they are real, and monitored. (We have just completed a Buyer’s Guide to Security Camera Systems for small business. It discusses, among other things, how video tape of incidents can be downloaded and saved.  You can get the Guide here.)

Have you established any internal policies for managing a hostile situation?

Does the receptionist have a “panic button?” Do you have a “code word” that would let someone know a dangerous situation has developed? How would you let workers know there is an emergency situation at the front entrance?

What training have you received for managing a hostile situation?

We have seen incredible TV footage of ordinary people handling dangerous situations with aplomb and skill. However, the rest of us need training for these situations. Many qualified programs are available. For example:

  • Local police may offer security assessment and training for business owners, managers or HR professionals in your area.
  • Department of Homeland Security offers free courses, materials, and workshops, particularly for schools and school employees.
  • CDC offers specialized training for health workers.
  • YouTube and Vimeo have dozens of free training videos available for your use. Just type in the keywords “violence in the workplace” to see what comes up.
  • Commercial training organizations such as Fred Pryor, HR Seminars and SkillPath offer seminars either online or in locations around the country. (Many of these seminars meet requirements for required “harassment” training.)

“But our business is different.”

Every business is different. That’s why every business requires a CUSTOMIZED plan for security.

At the same time, every business has a legal duty and a moral obligation to provide a safe workplace.

Take the time now to consider what you can do at your workplace to increase the chances of preventing or lessening the chances of a dangerous situation at the front door.

Your Emergency Plan Guide team

If this topic is of interest to you, you may want to read these two Emergency Plan Guide articles, too:

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