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Controlling public access to employee-only spaces


By: Libby Reed

Risk Solutions Specialist


Some businesses have a retail space that is open to the public along with storage rooms or warehouse areas, such as furniture stores. When these two areas are located in the same building or on the same property, business owners may find that keeping patrons from accessing employee-only spaces can be challenging. Several potential hazards become apparent when a customer or non-employee enters an area not meant for public access, including:

  • Injuries, such as slips, trips, and falls
  • Theft of merchandise
  • Damage to equipment or materials
  • Access to private documents or other sensitive information
  • Safety and well-being of employees

Storage or warehouse spaces can contain hazards that retail areas designed for public access do not; there is often special equipment and other items that require training and experience, meaning that employees may safely work in that area if they have received proper training. However, when a patron unfamiliar with the facility’s layout, unaware of the hazards present, and unauthorized enters the space, the risk of loss increases.

Business owners can take steps to help prevent and mitigate hazards associated with the public accessing employee-only areas. The following list does not include all controls necessary to secure your business, so please seek legal counsel or professional services to help protect your business.

Tips to secure employee-only spaces

  • Display signage outside any door or entryway to the secure area indicating that access is for “employees only.”
  • Secure doors or entryways so that a key, scannable keycard, or passcode entered into a keypad is required for access. However, ensure that emergency exit doors are accessible at all times.
  • Install surveillance cameras inside and outside of the restricted area.
  • Implement further controls to secure private documents and sensitive information within the restricted area.
  • Train employees on all security measures and provide a point of contact if unauthorized access were to occur.