The Dangers of Being a Lone Working Security Guard in the U.K

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) statistics show that there were an estimated 739,000 incidents of violence at work, 356,000  of which were physical assaults. ¹

HSE Violence at Work 2018-19

New Security Roles

Violent crime continues to increase across the U.K as police numbers diminish. As a result of this, private guards have been hired to fill the security vacuum, along with CCTV operators, cash transit specialists and close protection officers.

The change in roles has resulted in substantial growth in the security sector. During 2017-2018 there were 143,894 applications for individual licences to operate in the security industry compared to 110,437 the previous year. The rise is in line with the obvious increase of an already substantial industry. There are currently 386,657 licence holders, with 68,715 in the role of security guard. ²

Increased Risk of Violence

Taking on the role of a security guard does come with its own set of risks. Protective service is the occupational group with the highest risk of experiencing workplace violence, which can be seen in the graph above. ³

The Labour Force Survey shows that around 9 out of every 10 workers who sustain an injury resulting from violence at work (regardless of whether the injury resulted in time off work) are employed in public services.

Overall, respondents in protective service occupations (such as police officers) faced the highest risk of assaults and threats while working, at 11.4% – 8 times the average risk of 1.4%. ⁴

In March 2017 a security guard was viciously beaten after he challenged an intruder inside the factory he was patrolling.

Det Insp Colin Mattinson, of West Midlands Police Force CID, said,

“This was a sustained and violent attack on an elderly man. We believe he challenged a man found inside the premises which led to the unprovoked attack taking place.” ⁵

Unfortunately, as he was the sole worker on shift, the injured guard was left alone with serious head injuries for six hours until a colleague found him and raised the alarm.

Protecting Lone Working Security Personnel

The best way to keep security guards (lone workers) safe is to equip them with the necessary tools. Lone worker’s need a  safety solution that allows peace of mind that if anything goes wrong, someone will know and can send help.

The purpose of a Lone Worker Solution is to ensure all workers go home safely at the end of each shift. Solutions are simple systems that connect workers with a supervisor who monitors their well-being. The supervisor could be another member of the same company, or staff in a call centre. 

There are many different solutions available to lone workers that allow them to keep in touch by checking in. However, not all solutions are as simple and convenient as a Smartphone app.

The Ok Alone system has a wide range of features designed to make people working remotely feel safer. The system has an automated countdown timer, as required by work alone legislation, which reminds lone workers to make contact by checking in using either a smartphone app, sms or phone call. Workers are able to change the frequency of their check ins with the ‘high-risk’ feature. If a worker enters an area where they feel vulnerable, they can reduce the check in time to as little as 10 minutes. After the time has passed with no alerts, the check in frequency will revert to the original count down duration.

Specialised Features

One of the features, the Man Down (Worker Down) function, alerts monitors if there has been no movement from a worker within a set amount of time. This could help indicate if the worker has been involved in an accident or assault. This feature would have alerted the factory’s management that there had been an incident and the security guard would not have had to wait for the next shift to start before he was found.

Ok Alone also offers BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) beacons as an alternative to GPS only systems. The beacons are fully integrated into the existing OK Alone app and fully functioning within the lone worker system. The small beacons are radio transmitting devices that can be programmed to give out longitude and latitude coordinates, or exact locations ie, ‘Warehouse G, Floor 2, Section 12’. As staff move around their sites registered beacons log the time, name and id of the worker.

This allows companies to know their workers are able to check in or request help and have real time locations for them, whether they are out in the field or down in the basement.

Ok Alone’s lone worker smartphone app works in conjunction with a website and dashboard that can be used on pc, laptop, tablet or another smartphone. The online dashboard will display a map supplying the monitor with the workers last known location if an alert is triggered.

To find out more about how you can keep lone security workers safe visit www.okalone.com

  1. https://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causinj/violence/index.htm
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/jan/05/private-security-industry-risk-grows-as-police-numbers-fall
  3. https://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causinj/violence/work-related-violence-report-19.pdf
  4. https://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causinj/violence/work-related-violence-report-19.pdf

5. https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/security-guard-left-dead-brutal-12767153



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