Canadian Security Magazine

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Top 5 common safety hazards security workers face during fall and winter


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On any given day, security workers face a number of diverse safety hazards that can cause injury and even fatalities. From a violent member of the public to slips and falls, those putting their well-being at stake for the safety of others are exposed to a wide range of occupational risk, making it difficult to find an effective, overall solution for these important people.

In its comprehensive list of occupational groups that experience the most risk of workplace violence, the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety includes security along with police and correctional officers as at-risk groups – which says a lot about how dangerous the job can be.

Fall and winter work safety hazards and risks

During the frigid workdays of autumn, new workplace safety hazards are beginning to present themselves to security workers and safety managers. Slippery and icy conditions are the reason for a large number of accidents during the colder months, causing car accidents while going to job sites, injuries from the elements such as frostbite, as well as the more common slips, trips, and falls that you’ll read about below.

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Especially with the added challenges of winter, protecting a team of security workers can seem even more daunting and complex. However, by focusing your safety efforts and energy on five key safety hazards, it is possible to significantly improve the, well, security of workers in this industry and field.

Top 5 common safety hazards security workers face

  1. Slips, trips and falls

So, what’s number one? You guessed it – slips, trips, and falls. Icy and wet walkways that security officers regularly patrol can be very treacherous, causing serious, debilitating accidents and life-threatening head injuries. Make sure you are vigilant when it comes to salting, graveling, clearing walkways, placing “slippery” or “be careful” signs where needed. If conditions are very treacherous, consider providing or helping pay for the needed, winter footwear like boots with secure tread.

  1. Violence

As physical deterrents to violence, security workers can face large amounts of violence as a result. A 2011 study “Work-related violence against security guards “found that close to 40% of security guards experienced verbal aggression at least once a month, with 20% experiencing threats of assault and 15% being threatened with physical acts at least once per month. Security workers can be equipped with personal protective equipment, lone worker safety devices, as well as accessible communication devices to increase their safety, particularly those working alone, during late hours.

  1. Psychological and physical risk

As mentioned above, 40% of security workers reported verbal aggression at least once a month. And when you consider the rise in violent public incidents around mask enforcement, these number most certainly have gone up. Verbal abuse, let alone physical assault, can take a major toll on the emotional well-being of security workers, impacting their happiness on the job as well as quality of work. Managers must provide resources or avenues that security workers can access for their mental health. This can be as simple as an automated check-in system, which demonstrates that somebody has their back.

A recent 2020 study, “The influence of specific aspects of occupational stress on security guards’ health and work ability” found that the safety risks/stressors of “high demands, strictness, conflict/uncertainty, threat avoidance and underload” in security work were “significant positive predictors of fasting glucose, triglycerides, total and LDL cholesterol, blood pressure, heart rate, Framingham cardiovascular risk score, and temporary work disability.”

  1. Environmental risks/exposure

As winter approaches, steps must be taken to protect security workers from the cold elements and weather. Security employees tend to patrol many areas outdoors, such as construction sites , and therefore need the proper clothing and footwear to keep them warm and on their feet. Plunging temperatures can cause conditions like snow-blindness, hypothermia, and even chilblains which are a cold injury caused by prolonged and repeated exposure to the cold.

  1. Chemical hazards

Yes, you read this correctly. Chemical hazards. Because of cold temperatures, containers holding dangerous chemicals can freeze and fracture, leaking and exposing their harmful contents to people like security officers who will venture into areas where chemicals are stored. The good news about these hazards is that they can be prevented through regular checks and proper storage according to the temperature requirements of the chemical or substance.

Address the big picture of safety

By focusing your efforts on these key areas, the overall safety of your security team will improve, providing a big picture of the dangerous occupational hazards the team faces every day. It is important to be aware of these risks, regularly performing checks and hazard assessments of dangers in the workplaces.

The big picture of safety can also be achieved just by simply talking to your team about safety issues and making it an open discussion where everyone feels comfortable to speak up. Stay connected and engaged to keep a close pulse on the team’s work circumstances and environment, and you’ll have a safer and happier professional family as a result.

Gen Handley is a Marketing and Growth Coordinator for www.safetylineloneworker.com, an automated, cloud-based lone worker monitoring service.