Does your organisation have multiple layers of security? If an employee loses his or her pass, how easily can an unauthorised person gain access to locations where high-risk material is stored?

Porters, security guards, locks and cameras are forms of physical security that are essential to protect high-risk pathogens. Securing, authorising and controlling access to crucial areas, and using various types of barriers, make it more difficult for unauthorised persons to access high-risk material. Physical security therefore consists of security measures, authorisation and access control.


Security layers

A security layer is protected with a barrier that prevents unauthorised access to an area, building or space. An organisation can define various layers of security to protect specific areas. Depending on the distance to the material, these are the vital area, the protected area and the observation area. Click here for an infographic about the different layers of security to protect these areas. The installation of multiple layers of protection prevents an unauthorised person from gaining access to high-risk pathogens after passing a single layer.


Security barriers and security measures

A security layer is protected by a barrier such as a reception desk, an entrance gate or a lockable room. Physical measures are taken to make access to high-risk pathogens more difficult for unauthorised persons. Various physical measures are possible: card readers, PIN code access, intrusion detection or personal systems such as biometric systems. Installing multiple physical security barriers in sequential layers prevents an unauthorised person from gaining access to high-risk pathogens after passing a single barrier.

Combine two of the following three measures: ‘something you have, something you know, and something you are’.

Have:  electronic pass, key, etc.
Know: code, password, etc.
Are:     biometrics (fingerprint, iris scan).

These different types of physical security measures can be used across multiple barriers.


Security monitoring and incident response

In addition to the barriers with corresponding physical security measures, security monitoring is crucial. This can be done by security officers who are aided by remote monitoring and intrusion detection systems such as cameras, alarms and motion detectors. They can use these systems to control access to the organisation. Security officers can therefore intervene immediately or track an incident or calamity when electronic systems sound an alarm and can therefore respond adequately to an incident.


Authorisation and access control

The organisation is responsible for authorising access to high-risk areas or pathogens and for controlling this access. The authorisation system must be kept up-to-date, so people can be given or denied direct access accordingly. Access can also be registered and monitored.


Security culture

The culture within an organisation is essential for physical security. Physical security is effective only if personnel implement the security measures correctly. Employees must be aware that access control measures are strictly personal and can never be shared with others. For example, employees must understand that they should never hold doors to secured spaces open for others, visitors must always be escorted, and abnormal situations must be reported.