There are a number of options for you. Here's what my research turned up:HID Corporation has a number of good links. They primarily deal with proximity RFID systems, but they show a number of their partners combine proximity and fingerprint, hand geometry and other systems. Look at this page for their partners, even if you don't want RFID, as they have pictures and that may give an idea of what fits into your environment. They also list worldwide partners, including the UK, Switzerland, Singapore and Hungary.
Take a look at Print Electronics, who make a number of access-control devices. Their Star 2000 FP might be close to what you want. I don't know how ruggedized it is for a hazardous environment, though. They list it as being suitable for store rooms of hazardous chemicals, but it's hard to tell in a picture.
Visionics Corporation has both fingerprint readers and face scanners. They do a lot of work with law enforcement, but I'm not sure how suitable they are for your environmental needs.
Identix has a number of solutions and works with industry and the public sector. The page on their extremely irritating and hard-to-use Web site that most closely matches what I think you want to look at first is http://www.identix.com/authentication/biometrics/hwsensors.asp.
Also, look at Security Biometrics, which sells all sorts of things, including the Print Electronics system I mentioned above. They also do other sorts of biometrics.
I have no idea what your other requirements are, but it's possible that you'd be better served by some other form of biometric, like a hand-geometry scanner or face or iris scanner.
People who work with chemicals -- like dishwashers and cleaning staff -- frequently lose enough of their fingerprints that fingerprint scanners don't work well at all. So I question whether fingerprints are the right technology for you. I have worked with systems that use hand-geometry scanners (Recognition Systems) and like them. If your staff is going to be wearing safety clothing, you may be forced into face or iris scanning.
For more information on this topic, visit these other SearchSecurity resources:
Best Web Links: Biometrics
News & Analysis: Biometrics improving, but not perfect
News & Analysis: Current economic, political climate opening doors for biometrics
This was first published in April 2002