How to define and implement a great Visitor Policy
All schools and many businesses will want to formally define and document how they want to manage visitors in a Visitor Policy. This will record some consistent ground rules for receiving visitors onto site. Of course, the nature of your visitor policy will depend on the type and size of your organisation. Manufacturing facilities will want to limit visitor access to potentially hazardous production lines whilst schools will require some visitors to have DBS checks.
What sort of things will a Visitor Policy cover?
A visitor policy may form part of your employee’s handbook and will usually cover things like:
A business owes a duty of care to all their visitors under the Health and Safety at Work Act to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, persons who are not employees are not put at risk. Visitors should be given information about any hazardous activities taking place in the premises, any safety rules and procedures they must comply with and any steps that should be taken to prevent visitors accessing dangerous areas.
Different types of visitor
Different visitors may require different types of treatment. For example, consider the different approaches needed for a regular music teacher, a contractor installing a gas supply or a candidate being interviewed for a job.
Visitor notification protocols
This covers how hosts will be notified that their guests have arrived, often this is via a receptionist, although automated emails from visitor touchscreens are becoming more popular.
You will need to consider how a visitor log is being accessed and stored and whether there are any potential GDPR breaches agasint visitor management law
A Visitor Agreement
Some organisations will need to protect confidential information or intellectual property which might place some restrictions on visitors. This might be an agreement on the appropriate use of a wi-fi network or restrictions on photography and/or recording equipment. In some special circumstances, a liability waiver or non-disclosure agreement may be applicable.
Things to consider when putting together a Visitor Policy
Identifying Sensitive Areas and Assets
A good starting point is to think about your premises and identify any specific places or things that have risk attached to them and need to be generally off limits to visitors:
Company or school property that are obvious targets for theft or misappropriation e.g. a storage room for high value assets
Areas which would constitute potential privacy invasions if they were accessed e.g. the storage of confidential patient/staff records
Areas which could present a potential hazard to visitors who aren’t familiar with your facility and equipment e.g. a factory production line
Defining Appropriate Access Restrictions
Once you are clear where you want your visitors to go and, more importantly where you don’t want them to go, you can put in some measures to restrict access. Some typical restrictions may include:
Assigning Visitor Entry Points
Having a single designated visitor entrance makes it easier to manage and track visitors on your premises. Employees should direct any visitor to this entrance point and be vigilant against tailgating.
Issuing a visitor badge is a popular and effective security measure. A visitor pass helps staff quickly identify an authorised visitor. A badge which features a photo, expiry date or distinctive branding will be more difficult to fake.
A Visitor Record
As well as issuing a pass or badge, a visitor check-in process should create an up to date log of visitors on site. This is essential for an emergency evacuation roll call and could be a useful historical reference point.
Most businesses or schools would not wish to have a visitor wandering unaccompanied around the building. The visitor policy would require that any visitor needs to be escorted by their host or another employee throughout their visit, ensuring they check out before leaving the building.
Reporting and enforcement
Finally, a good visitor policy also advises employees on what actions to take if they do notice a breach in visitor protocol. For example, what happens if they see a fire door propped open or notice a visitor without a pass or left unattended in a restricted area. Staff may be encouraged to politely ask any visitors not appropriately “badged” about their business on site.
A clear Visitor Management policy is designed to ensure visitors to the workplace will not pose threats to premises or property, distract employees from their work or be exposed to danger. However don't let that overshadow the value of a friendly greeting and creating a positive first impression.