Male security guards have been some of the most affected by Covid-19.
Shocking figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) showing that male security guards are among those with the highest death rates from Covid-19 reveal just how vital and exposed the profession is.
As Mike Bullock, CEO of Corps Security, said: “It is one of the few facilities functions which will have had a presence on site throughout lockdown and security teams will play a key role in getting facilities ready for the return to work.”
Martin Reed, managing director of Incentive FM, said: “Good employers shouldn’t be putting any members of staff at risk in the workplace, regardless of what they do.”
He ensures that his staff are given face masks and gloves so they are safe on the job.
Abbey Petkar of Magenta Security Services points out that security guards have continued to work during the crisis and the industry has a proportionally higher level of black, Asian and minority ethnic males. “These two factors mean we have a statistically more at-risk workforce demographic putting themselves in higher-risk situations. The ONS report also contains a number of caveats around the data that must also be considered.”
The report, for example, does not take into consideration who a guard might be living with and their occupations, residential status or other factors that could increase risk.
He added: “Security guards are ultimately part of a frontline, people-facing workforce.
“Yes, they are more likely to come into contact with other people, they are more likely to handle goods due to postal deliveries etc, and are more likely to be the first person someone speaks to when they walk on to commercial premises – but we can protect them if we make it our priority, ’ said Petkar.
“Professional security companies need to consider all of these factors when putting in place plans, policies and subsequent equipment to protect our workforce. PPE is high on the list, but so are the many other measures that must be considered to ensure our industry is not used as a poster statistic.”
A spokeswoman for the Security Industry Authority said the body would “continue to speak with government and businesses on this matter, and will take whatever action it is legally allowed to take that will contribute to the safety of those working in private security”.
Safety checklist: Preparing teams
Mike Bullock from Corps Plan said managers of security teams should take the following actions.
- Provide security staff with appropriate PPE such as gloves and masks, particularly if they will be handling visitors’ bags when they’re scanned.
- Install transparent screens in front of security officers at reception/concierge desks.
- Place graphics on the floor to show your employees and visitors where to go – and how to guarantee social distancing.
- Change the check-in/security procedures to reduce human contact. This could include removing the need for access cards for visitors or ensuring that the passes are disinfected between each use – and work with the cleaning team to ensure that turnstiles, gates, and reception counters together with any scanning equipment are regularly cleaned and disinfected.
- Introduce antibacterial gel in reception areas and explore what technology you can use to keep people safe.
- Use thermal imaging cameras to check for abnormally high human temperatures – a symptom of Covid-19 – may become widespread. Decide whether to opt for fixed or hand-held cameras.
- Install occupancy counters in reception areas; these are good for ensuring that a building doesn’t exceed its planned capacity as buildings are reoccupied.
- Decide how to adapt emergency evacuations with social distancing in mind. In the event of a fire, is social distancing important or is the fire the greater threat?
- Finally, before people move back in, carry out a full security risk assessment to make sure that the building is safe and secure.