COVID-19 SECURITY RISKS AND SAFETY PRECAUTIONS SECURITY OFFICERS NEED TO KNOW
2020 will forever be remembered in history as the year a pandemic forced the world to pause. As we have reached the development of a vaccine, reports from health organizations worldwide predicted the elevated infection levels we are seeing as we enter into the new year. This means that COVID-19 will continue to heighten not only health and life risks globally, but also business and property risks. Since protecting life and properties from risks are the fundamental duties of security officers, that means they are the ones in the front line of defense. In this article, we will discuss the security risks security officers need to know about COVID-19, and steps to take as security companies and individual security officers..
Security Risks To Beware
The respiratory virus is one that spreads through contact. For this reason, governments have mandated anyone intending to go out in public to wear some form of protective gear covering their mouth and nose. In a bid to comply, everyone is now going around with a mask, gloves, and other identity obscuring wearables, which makes it difficult to correctly identify an individual when necessary.
The use of face coverings create two immediate issues for security officers. First is the issue of identification. Instead of being able to see the entire face of someone being observed, security officers will need to rely more on what was once a more second level means of direct identification. Examples of the new normal where faces are covered include, but is not limited to: clothing (whether distinctive or by color), height, tattoos, people they are with, and any identifying jewelry or technology. Observation skills need to broaden and security must be prepared for descriptions that are more inclusion of second tier identifiers.
We are in the era of remote working, which has been accelerated by the pandemic. Virtually everything has been moved online, including workers as well as customers. Because workers are using their own computers at home, they do not have the trusted security their office once provided, leaving them vulnerable to cyber-attacks. This is where awareness and education become essential. As the saying goes, cybersecurity is only as strong as the weakest link. A simple phishing email opened by an unsuspecting staff member could result in monetary and reputation loss running into millions of dollars; hence, an incident that could have been easily avoided if everyone was well educated.
The key to administrative operations taking place remotely is heightened communication. We can now reach out to our colleagues in a number of almost immediate ways: call, text, chat, email, and/or walkie-talkie apps or devices. Accordingly, if a communication does not sound “normal” to your organization, employees should be strongly encouraged to verify using a second method of communication since we may not be able to pop by someone’s desk at this time to confirm face-to-face. We all know normal co-worker requests that don’t require verification, but when something confidential or access-based is requested, be on the safe side.
At the beginning of last year, no one could have predicted or envisioned that the world would stand still. Most existing protocols were not equipped to handle a pandemic. In most organizations, these old protocols introduced during an employee’s orientation are what security officers are still adhering to. With the disruptions caused by the pandemic, most operations and protocols now have fundamental changes, which security officers need to be aware of. Their up to date knowledge needs to be updated through continuous training, whether online or offline. New information is being released everyday.
Training is one of the most important protocol changes that security officers and security companies have had to adjust for with the pandemic. Training is still required to be timely and proper to obtain and maintain a compliant guard card, and it’s still the employer’s responsibility to track that their security officers are on the path to be sufficiently trained and store relevant training certificates. That said, it has become logistically so much harder in an environment where on-site training is impacted by COVID-19 and people are remote from their administrative headquarters to meet compliance with old training practices.
Online training and tracking platforms on the market, such as GuardsLink, can address the need to modernize how training is performed and monitored to make the taking of training easier and affordable, while improving the administrative experience in keeping a well-trained and compliant workforce. While not all training can be done online, such as firearms or baton training, many companies during COVID-19 have shifted their training, where possible, to a distance learning model that have realized administrative advantages as well.
With all company policies and procedures, sometimes it takes an event like the pandemic to revisit our systems to see if there is a newer or better way to perform the same tasks. Much like Zoom, keep your eyes out for business solutions that may have been adopted because of COVID-19 that will now have a positive place moving forward in our businesses.
COVID-19 Safety Precautions
At the battle frontline in the war against COVID-19 are medical professionals and security officers, in their collaboration for the protection of both life and properties. But who then, is protecting these selfless people. Below are some COVID-19 safety precautions for security guards to help minimize the occupational risks of exposure.
It is strongly recommended that the following information be addressed with your security officers to the point of it becoming second nature. Moreover, it would be best practice to post this information is a highly visible area within your organization so that the standards and expectations of your company is understood by the security personnel you employ.
Frequent Hand Washing
Hand washing is one of the most common COVID-19 safety precautions, even though many still do not know how it should be done properly nor do they know the effective frequency of when it should be done. As a safety precaution, security officers should develop the habit of frequently washing their hands at least every two hours. There is also a right way to wash hands: scrub thoroughly- including the back of hands- using soap, for no less than 20 seconds under running water.
Avoid Touching Your Face
The coronavirus enters the body once it comes in contact with body fluids. Our mouth, eyes, and nose are easy entry points, especially when touched with unwashed or unsanitized hands. There is also a right way to sanitize your hands. First is to ensure you use a sanitizer with over 60% alcohol content. The second is to rub your hands together until they are dry.
Limit physical contact as much as possible, especially with known infected persons. There is also the right distance for social distancing: at least 6 feet between one person and another. Security officers can project their presence while still respecting distances for a great majority of their responsibilities.
Even where security officers have been notified of a new policy of maintaining social distancing, marking the 6 feet distance is a better implementation. Marking such areas in front of security stations will ensure that the security officers and those approaching the security stations will clearly understand where to stand while interacting so as to take realistic and rational precautions to protect both sides of the interactions.
Security officers are usually kitted for protection, regardless of whether they are armed or unarmed security officers. With the pandemic still ongoing, the personal protection equipment of security officers needs to be updated and optimized to handle COVID-19 issues. There are also the right elements for a PPE, which include safety glasses/goggles, FDA-approved surgical masks, disposable coveralls and disposable nitrile gloves. It is important to use the precautions and coverings that make the most sense for the health of your security officers, while remaining effective in the field.
We need to stay the course and be smart and safe. Even though COVID-19 has tried our patience and impacted our lives for nearly a year – and even though vaccines are beginning to be rolled out nationwide – now is not the time to lower our guards and be lax or to think that the pandemic can no longer harm our businesses or security officers.
Instead of hoping the pandemic just goes away, take the time needed to think through your procedures and systems to determine if there is a better way, whether that’s your internal or external communications, training, or operational systems. Use the pandemic to kickstart that process.
That light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter – by safe and successful during the final phases of COVID-19 and all the rest of 2021.
Armand Adkins is CEO of GuardsLink, a provider of best-in-class systems to support physical security companies. With 26 years of legal, compliance and operational experience, Armand leads a dynamic company that delivers two unique services to address the training and hiring needs of security companies
The GuardsLink platform (GuardsLink.com) is an end-to-end solution to give security companies the ability to provide their employees branded online training that is both affordable and quality, and includes an integrated system to monitor and manage guard training and certificates.
SecurityHires (SecurityHires.com) is a security industry focused job board designed and built using cutting edge technology to assist in all the hiring requirements of security companies seeking qualified security officers.
Those looking for an intuitive and robust training solution implemented at no cost and includes a revenue sharing model, or more information regarding the benefits of the industry specific job board, should contact Armand at info@GuardsLink.com or call (888) 360-9373 ext 1006.