It is important for employers to take into account the wide variety of situations where security guards work alone. It is necessary to consider the hazards specific to the security industry and their workplaces. Therefore, developing and adopting effective health and safety procedures, including a lone worker policy, that correctly address these hazards.
Security staff are often at work on their own; they cannot be seen or heard by another worker; cannot expect a visit from another worker; and know assistance is not readily available to them when needed.
People Risk and Environmental Risk
There are five main areas of risk to be considered for lone workers:
- The risk of lone working behind closed doors
- The risk of lone working in the community
- The risk of lone working with the public
- The risk of lone working on a work site
- The risk of lone working at night
Security guards are exposed to all of these risks and the very real risk of violence on a daily basis. One way to address these hazards is to do a risk assessment and create a Lone Working Policy for your company.
A Hazard and Risk Assessment is a process that involves: identification of hazards in the workplace and an assessment of the impact the identified hazards have
on lone workers. Here is a free Risk Assessment to help you start the process.
Assess Workplace Situations and Hazards
There are many factors to consider when assessing workplace situations:
- Length of time the worker will be working alone:
- What is a reasonable length of time for a worker to be alone?
- Is it necessary for the worker to be alone at all?
- How long will the worker be alone to finish the job?
- Is it legal for the worker to be alone while doing certain activities?
- What time of the day will the worker be alone?
- What methods of communication are available? Can management contact workers directly?
- Will there be a check in time? How will this occur?
- Will emergency communication systems work properly in the environment and all situations? Are there alternative methods available?
- If the communication systems are located in a vehicle, will there be alternate arrangements to cover the worker when away from the vehicle?
- Is a panic button necessary?
- Location of the work:
- Is the work in a remote or isolated location? (Remember, a remote location does not have to be far away. Storage rooms that are rarely used can be considered remote or isolated.)
- Can the site be accessed by vehicle? if yes, what kind of transportation is needed?
- Is the vehicle equipped with emergency supplies such as – food, drinking water and a first aid kit?
- What are the consequences if the vehicle breaks down?
- Will the worker be exposed to outside weather for long periods of time?
- Does the worker need training to be able to use location specific first aid equipment?
- Type or nature of work:
- Is there adequate training and education provided for the worker to be able to work alone safely?
- If personal protective equipment is required, is it available, is it in good working order, and has the worker been trained in its use, care and storage?
- What machinery, tools or equipment will be used?
- Is there a high risk activity involved?
- Is fatigue likely to be a factor?
- Are there extremes of temperature? Is there shelter available?
- Is there risk of an animal attack, or poisoning/allergic reaction from insect/animal bites?
- If the worker is working inside a locked building, how will emergency services be able to get in? (For example: a night cleaner in a secure office building.)
- Does the work involve working face to face with members of the public while alone?
- Characteristics of the individual who is working alone:
- Are there pre-existing medical conditions that may increase the potential risk?
- Does the worker have adequate levels of experience and training? (For example: first aid, communication systems repair, vehicle breakdowns, relevant administrative procedures and/or outdoor survival skills.)
Improve Your Lone Worker Safety Procedures
Understanding the level of impact various hazards will have on a lone working security officer, allows companies to identify where safety procedures should be improved. There are many steps that can be taken to help ensure the safety of your lone workers.
- Talk to workers about their work. Get their input about the work they do and possible solutions.
- Investigate incidents at the workplace, and those from similar workplaces.
- Take corrective action to prevent or minimize the potential risks of working alone.
- Provide appropriate training and education.
- Report all situations, incidents or “near misses” where working alone increased the severity of the situation. Analyse this information.
- Establish a check-in procedure. Make sure regular contact is kept with all workers.
- Establish ways to account for people (visually or verbally) while they are working.
- For most lone workers, the telephone will be the main source of contact.
- Schedule high risk tasks during normal business hours, or when another worker is capable of helping if an emergency situation arises.
- Position workers, where possible, in locations of highest visibility.
- Keep windows clear to allow the worker to be clearly visible to the public.
- Where appropriate, use a security system such as video surveillance cameras, mirrors, observation windows, etc., however, ensure that informed consent is obtained from employees prior to use.
- Provide employees with a Lone Worker Solution with an exact location GPS Interface.
Once you have identified the areas that need improving and risks that need addressing, create a comprehensive Lone Worker Policy for your security company. We have created a free policy template for you here. It will need to be amended to incorporate the results from your risk assessment and consultations with your workers.