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Managing Facility Access in a Post-Covid-19 Environment

Access control and visitor tracking have never been more important. Whether a facility has remained open during the pandemic or is about to reopen, it is imperative that organizations implement best practice policies, procedures, and protocols to ensure a safe work environment. This article provides a road map of useful policies and procedures that can be modified to fit your organization’s needs. Larger organizations likely began implementation of their policies and procedures several months ago; however, this tool may be useful to smaller organizations. For specific information regarding the reopening of a facility refer to Center for Disease Control guidelines at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/reopen-guidance.html

Pre-arrival Plan

The first priority is to create a system for controlling the arrival of both staff and visitors (contractors, maintenance technicians, delivery personnel, etc.). Existing plans should be reviewed to determine what changes will be required to accommodate the return to more normal staffing levels.

  • Create an on-line or on-site self-assessment form to evaluate the health of anyone entering the facility via a lobby or other formal entrance.1
  • Stagger arrival times to minimize crowding in common areas such as lobbies and cafeterias.
  • Post occupancy limits in each room.
  • Mark out social distancing waiting locations in the reception area for arriving visitors.
  • Require that staff members coordinate visitor dates and times in advance with reception area personnel.
  • Prohibit non-essential vendor sales visits.
  • Designate and mark specific meeting rooms for use with visitors.
  • Mark designated visitor routes and restrooms with floor marking and signage.
  • Prepare floor plans showing designated visitor routes and restrooms.
  • Allow enough time between appointments for extra cleaning of the designated visitor meeting rooms.
  • To the greatest degree possible, schedule deliveries and loading dock access to minimize contact time between delivery personnel and staff.

Arrival

The next priority involves creating a system for tracking visitors as they arrive at the facility.  This step is critical should contact tracing be required.

  • Have face masks readily available at the reception area.
  • Provide hand sanitizer or direct visitors to a designated restroom for handwashing.
  • Evaluate the location of the existing reception area and decide if another location would be more suitable for controlling visitor access.
  • Keep accurate visitor registration books and verify visitor information is complete and legible.
  • To supplement the information entered in the visitor registration book, business cards should be collected as a back-up source of information. Inspect business cards for company name, individual name, address, phone number and email; some cards contain only minimal information.
  • Package delivery personnel should arrange for contactless delivery, if possible.
  • Vending machine and food delivery personnel must wear a mask and gloves.
  • Truck delivery personnel must remain in their vehicles and call a designated phone number to make arrangements for access to the loading dock.
  • Keep accurate delivery personnel registration books. Properly positioned, high-definition security cameras can record delivery details such as license plates and images of delivery personnel.

Controlling Movement Within the Facility

Developing a strategy for controlling movement within a facility can be challenging and difficult to implement.

  • Decide if visitors must be escorted. If not, provide floor plans showing designated visitor routes and restrooms.
  • Decide if visitors will have access to break areas and cafeterias.
  • Issue high-visibility visitor badges.
  • Consider issuing visitor beacons.
  • Consider issuing visitor badges that automatically display Void after a given period of time.2 (Automatically expiring badges ensure that a given badges cannot reused.) Expiring badges are especially helpful for controlling contactor personnel requiring access to large areas of the facility (e.g., cleaning and sterilization crews).

Exiting the Facility

Official points of exit from the facility must have containers suitable for the disposal of personal safety items such as gloves and masks.

  • Visitor badges should be collected and disposed of properly at the reception area when the visitor leaves the facility.

The Benefits of Virtual Meetings

Although this article discusses controlling required visitor access, the convenience and benefits of using virtual meetings, when appropriate, should not be ignored.  In some cases, a virtual visit may be the perfect visit. Virtual meetings can also provide a reduction in your organization’s carbon footprint.

Footnotes

1 See https://www.fisherphillips.com/data-bank-templates-forms for one source of free forms and signage.

2For example https://www.identicard.com/visitor-management/tempbadge-expiring-visitor-badges/

Additional References

https://home.akitabox.com/blog/covid19-facility-reopening-tips

https://www.ama-assn.org/delivering-care/public-health/covid-19-physician-practice-guide-reopening

https://www.mylosscontrolservices.com/articles/global/prepare-your-facility-for-reopening-after-a-covid-19-closure

 

About the Author

Mr. Schirmer, RCDD/NTS, is a Supervising Engineer with WSP USA, Transportation and Infrastructure, specializing in aviation and airport projects. He earned his MBA in Information Systems from Binghamton University and holds degrees in economics, business administration and electrical engineering technology.

Name: Ernest Schirmer
Title: Supervising Engineer
Company: WSP USA, Transportation and Infrastructure
Address: 2000 Lenox Drive, Lawrenceville, NJ 08648
Telephone: 212-951-2835
email:    ernest.schirmer@wsp.com

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