Security Personnel OHS - Static Guarding & Patrol Work
Keycode: web only
Industry: Hospitality, Security,
Category: Workplace Amenities and First Aid, Occupational violence,
Publication Date: 06 June 2005
Date First Published: 22 March 2004
Summary: This guidance note describes good occupational health and safety practices and procedures that should be put in place for security personnel who do static guarding and patrol work.
This guide is developed by the Victorian Security Industry Occupational Health and Safety Working Party, using information contained in the document titled "Occupational Health, Safety & Welfare Guidelines For The Security Industry In South Australia" as the basis.
The Working Party consists of representatives from Australian Armoured Express, Australian Institute of Public Safety, Australian Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers' Union, Australian Security Industry Association Ltd, Charter Resources, Chubb Australia, Group 4 Securitas Pty Ltd, Linfox Armaguard, Tempo Services Ltd, Transport Workers Union of Australia, Victoria Police, Victorian Employers' Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Wilson Security and WorkSafe Victoria.
Purpose of this Guide
This guide has been written for employers (both direct employers and employers who engage security service by contract) of security personnel who do static guarding and patrol work. It describes good occupational health and safety practices and procedures that should be put in place by those employers for the sort of situations or issues covered by the guide.
General Approach to Managing Occupational Health and Safety
An employer needs to make sure that:
- an assessment of the tasks, roles, work locations, work arrangements, work environment, systems of communication, vehicles and other equipment associated with guarding and patrol work is carried out to identify all foreseeable health and safety hazards and risks which may be posed to employees, contractors and others
- adequate control measures to minimise health and safety risks to employees, contractors and others are developed and implemented
- safe operating procedures are developed and documented
- employees and contractors are provided with necessary information, instructions, training and supervision to enable them to carry out their work in a safe and healthy manner
- the overall systems of work are regularly monitored and reviewed to meet changing needs
The assessment, development, implementation and review of safe systems of work should be conducted by a competent person in consultation with employees or contractors who undertake guarding and patrol work and clients.
Amenities for Employees
Amenities include facilities for dining, changing clothes and washing, toilets, supplies of drinking water, first aid rooms, seating and accommodation for jobs requiring overnight stays.
An employer needs to provide guards with access to amenities at all types of work-sites, eg buildings, outdoor, mobile, isolated or temporary work-sites. If the employer isn't providing the amenities, the employer has to make arrangements for access to existing facilities, or for the use of facilities belonging to others. It is unacceptable for patrolling guards to use their vehicle on a permanent basis as a base.
Access to a separate dining area should be provided so guards can take meal breaks away from their post. If the client does not have dining facilities, then the employer should make arrangements for the guard to have access to an alternative dining facility, like a cafe or restaurant. Consideration should be given to organising patrol rosters so that patrolling guards can return to a central depot for meal breaks. Alternatively, a cafe or restaurant on route can be used as the designated dining facility. It's recognised that there could be situations where the only practical option will be for patrolling guards to take meals in their vehicle. However, these situations should be the exception rather than the rule.
Guards need to be provided with the opportunity to take toilet breaks as required and the toilets should be clean and hygienic. The employer should make arrangements with the client to allow the guard access to the client's toilet facilities. Where toilet facilities cannot be provided by the client, alternative arrangements should be made by the employer.
An employer should make sure there is access to a supply of cool, clean and palatable drinking water. The supply point of the water needs to be separate from toilet and washing facilities. Where connection to a permanent water supply isn't possible, or where a guard is not able to leave their post, a flask, cooled drink dispenser, a water bag or similar water container should be provided by the employer.
An employer should ensure that guards are not compelled to spend long periods of standing. The guard should have the option of working in a seated or standing position. Alternatively, duties may be rotated so that each guard does not have to stand for a prolonged period of time.
The employer needs to ensure that any accommodation provided is in a safe and healthy condition. Accommodation should have the following characteristics:
- a safe means of access and egress to and from the accommodation
- emergency exits and procedures for a rapid and safe evacuation in the event of an emergency
- adequate facilities for hand washing, and showering if necessary, and adequate supply of hot and cold water
- clean and hygienic toilets, and hygienic means for sanitary disposal is provided for women
- readily accessible and hygienic dining facilities
- adequate and suitable refuse receptacles, and a maintenance schedule for emptying regularly and cleaning
- maintenance of an acceptable ambient temperature
- if the guard will be needing to prepare meals, reasonable access to food storage and cooking facilities, including adequate cooking utensils, space for food preparation and appropriate refrigeration equipment
- sound and clean sleeping room furniture and fittings
- natural ventilation that is insect free to the sleeping accommodation
Refer also to WorkSafe Victoria's Guidance Note Provision of amenities on mobile and short term construction sites .
Security staff need to be included in all fire and evacuation procedures at the workplace they are assigned. This applies equally to permanent and temporary staff.
Clients should provide training in their evacuation procedures for security employees. Where clients do not have any evacuation procedures in place, the employer needs to develop procedures to ensure the safety of their employees; in this case, the procedures should be developed by the employer in consultation with the client.
Records of training should be kept by employer and client. Guards should follow any instructions given to them by the client in the event of an evacuation.
Refer also to WorkSafe Victoria's Guidance Note Developing an emergency management plan for a small organisation.First Aid
Procedures for first aid need to be developed and implemented, and guards need to be trained in these procedures. Employers need to ensure that guards have quick access to first aid facilities in the event of an injury or illness arising during the course of their work.
First aid kit
A first aid kit should be available for a guard and arrangements should be in place to keep the kit regularly stocked. Access to a first aid kit will vary depending on the role of the guard:
- Guard in a non-remote/non isolated situation. Within the contract agreement, it should be stipulated that the client provides the security guards on duty, access to their first aid facilities. If the client does not have first aid facilities, then the employer needs to ensure that the guard has quick access to first aid facilities.
- Static Guard in a remote/isolated situation. A first aid kit needs to be available for guards. If the guard is working in rural areas where there could be potentially life-threatening delays in obtaining medical assistance, a specialised first aid kit, designed for remote locations, should be provided to the guard.
- Patrol Guard. A first aid kit needs to be available in every patrol car.
All employees on static guard or patrol need to have at least level 2 first aid training. This training should be reviewed every 3 years. More specialised training, to at least level 3, should be provided for guards working in remote or isolated rural locations.
Any incident or accident should be reported to management and all first aid treatment should be recorded.
Refer also to WorkSafe Victoria's Code of Practice First aid in the workplace.
Heat Stress and Exposure to the Sun
Heat stress refers to the total heat burden to which the body is subjected to by both external and internal factors, eg temperature, humidity, radiant heat of surroundings, clothing.
Heat stress can be avoided by providing alternative work schedules, where possible, so that
- heavier work is done during cooler periods
- shaded areas are provided for outdoor work
Rest periods should be allowed in cool areas. Planning jobs to make use of shaded areas also contributes to reducing dangerous exposure to the sun.
The following actions will assist with coping with heat:
- reduce humidity and increase air movement to promote the evaporation of sweat
- provide clothing designed for hot conditions and modify any uniform requirements to accommodate hot conditions
- provide adequate supply of drinking water to prevent dehydration
Protection from UV radiation
If a guard will be working outdoors the employer needs to provide a hat, clothing, sunglasses and sunscreen that will reduce the harmful effects of UV exposure. Sunscreen alone is not sufficient. Consideration also needs to be given to the potential for reflected UV radiation from surfaces such as water or concrete. The objective should be maximum feasible coverage of skin by clothing and hats with sunscreen also being used as supplementary protection.
The employer needs to make sure that security personnel are provided with general and site specific induction in relation to occupational health and safety. Records of induction should be kept by employer and client.
Security personnel working in certain industries or situations (eg working in railway tracks and main roads) are required to hold a special licence.
Long Distance Driving / Driving Fatigue
Long distance driving or driving fatigue is a serious safety risk. Combining a long drive to a job and no proper rest before returning to base creates an unacceptable risk to safety.
Minimising fatigue in long distance driving
To minimise fatigue, the employer should:
- schedule the work so the guard has a full night's sleep before a long distance drive
- schedule work to avoid last-minute departures to a job that requires a long distance drive
- ensure the driver follows a pre-determined route that has been assessed for ease of travel
- where practicable, arrange for the drive to a work-site to be shared by 2 drivers (ideally driving shifts will be no longer than 2 hours)
- ensure drivers take rest breaks after 2 hours of driving even if there is only a short time before arriving at their destination
- schedule the work so staff completing a shift can have a minimum of 8 hours break before they return to base (Note: For long haulage driving there is a more stringent requirement for breaks between shifts)
- schedule the drive back to base to allow for rest breaks during the trip
In addition, employers need to ensure that guards notify the supervisor of the time of departure and the estimated time of arrival and notify their supervisor when they reach their work destination.
Alternatives to long distance driving
If the work schedule doesn't allow for sufficient breaks while driving a vehicle, then alternative arrangements need to be considered such as using public transport (i.e. plane, train or bus).
Manual handling refers to any activity involving the use of muscular force or effort by a person to lift, lower, push, pull, carry, hold or restrain any object, including a person or animal. Injury from manual handling is most common reason for workers compensation claims by security guards. Employers need to have policies and procedures in place that actively control the risk of manual handling injuries.
Employers should eliminate the risk of a musculoskeletal disorder and if that's not practicable reduce the risk as much as they can. The best way to do this is to act on the cause of the manual handling first. Some examples of the sort of things that need to be done by the employer are:
- organise work so that guards doing static guarding work are not required to do any moving or lifting of goods for a client
- if the security guard's work must include moving or lifting goods then ensure that trolleys and other load lifting or moving equipment is available for the guard's use
- implement no-lift procedures in crowd control situations. These can involve procedures such as doing no lifting of people unless there are sufficient guards available to do the lift safely or better still, have guards secure the area around a person who has collapsed to wait for first aid or ambulance staff to arrive
- if the security work is likely to involve manual handling of a person (e.g. hotel security work or front-of-house security) that work is not done by any less than 2 guards
- take into account risks during patrol work involving opening roller doors, heavy security doors and the like. The employer should be advising clients that the client has a duty to people other than employees when those people are on the client's property. In practical terms this means it's the client's obligation to ensure that it is safe to use doors and access points to the client's property
Manual handling training
Guards need to receive manual handling training specific to their work practices; e.g. having correct
- procedures for manually handling a person
- postures and positions in a vehicle
- use or application of mechanical aids or team lifting procedures
Refer also to WorkSafe Victoria's Guidance Notes Managing manual handling risk in a small organisation and Managing manual handling risk in a large organisation.
Exposure to unsafe noise levels in the workplace can be hazardous for guards. Regular security work at entertainment venues place guards in a particularly vulnerable situation. Unsafe levels of noise can lead to noise-induced hearing loss or tinnitus (constant ringing in the ears).
Exposure to noise
Exposure to a peak noise level above the exposure standard of 140db (linear), or 85dB (A) over an 8 hours period, has the potential to cause damage to hearing. A practical test of potentially dangerous noise levels is whether a person has to shout to be heard by someone standing nearby.
The employer needs to identify if there is a risk to the guard from exposure to noise. The employer should consult with the client or venue operator and determine if the expected noise level will exceed the exposure standard where the guard will be working.
Minimising exposure to noise
One of many simple but effective risk control measures in an entertainment venue is to arrange for guards not to be positioned in places where noise levels are likely to be high. Partitions, bars and even curtains can have a big effect on reducing noise levels. Every effort needs to be made to reduce the exposure to noise levels. If the work demands that a guard has to work in the vicinity of dangerous noise levels, the combination of hearing protection and administrative procedures such as rotating staff between noisy and quieter workplace locations may be necessary. It's critical however, that employers continue to explore ways to cut down on the exposure to dangerous noise levels, even at places like music venues.
If at any time the guard's exposure to noise is likely to exceed the exposure standard, personal hearing protection needs to be provided. Australian Standards AS/NZS 1269 Part 3: Occupational noise management - Hearing protector program provides more information to assist in the selection of appropriate hearing protectors. If hearing protection is essential for risk control the employer is obliged to provide audiometric testing of those employees who are using that hearing protection.
The main obligation of the employer is to do something about the source of the noise exposure risk. Depending on hearing protection and administrative measures without any evaluation of more effective noise control measures is unacceptable.
The employer also needs to also provide staff with training on the effects of noise and in the proper use of hearing protectors.
Remote and isolated work refers to situations where guards may be exposed to risks because the nature or location of their work means they are unable to readily summon assistance in the event of injury, illness, violence or other emergency at work.
Safe work practices should ensure regular contact to occur between the employer/supervisor and the guard at the remote or isolated location. A mobile telephone is not considered an acceptable and reliable form of communication when undertaking remote/isolated work. A mobile telephone should only be used if a risk assessment identifies that there is not a significant risk to the guard on duty and all other avenues of communication have been explored.
An employer should ensure that a risk assessment is conducted to address what the best method of communication would be for each unique situation.
An operations room operator should contact the guard every hour via a dedicated radio system on its own frequency. The guard's supervisor should also contact the guard every hour via a dedicated radio system that uses a separate frequency. An employer should hire a repeater from a larger company if they cannot afford their own dedicated frequency.
A patrolling guard should notify the operations room operator or their supervisor if the guard deviates from a scheduled patrol.
If the guard does not make contact by a designated time, the employer should have emergency procedures in place to ensure the safety of the guard. The operations room operator or supervisor should have a designated schedule with them at all times, to help locate guards that can be called in to check on someone who has not made their designated radio contact.
In the event of a patrol guard not responding to communications, procedures should allow for the nearest patrol to be sent to locate the guard. Employers need to ensure that the responding patrol assesses the situation so as not to put themselves at risk.
Sharps and Body Fluids
This refers to any situation where guards are exposed to sharps such as syringes or body fluids such as saliva, blood or vomit. Syringes or body fluids can transfer disease. The primary obligation of the employer is to ensure that guards are not exposed to the risk of contacting a disease.
Employers have to ensure that:
- guards are instructed not to pick up any used syringes or needles, clothing exposed to body fluid (eg visible blood) or other like hazardous material
- a guard with an open cut has the cut effectively bandaged and protected from infection before going out on a job
- if a guard's duty includes providing first aid treatment or handling blood or body fluid the guard is provided with thorough training in how to carry out these tasks safely, including training in the hazards of blood or body fluid contacted diseases. In these situations the employer also needs to provide suitable protection
There are many situations where the ordinary work of a security guard could result in exposure to blood and bodily fluid borne diseases. Any incidents of exposure should be reported to the supervisor, irrespective of the use of any other control measures. First aid treatment should be provided immediately following all exposures and have appropriate blood testing carried out. Critical incident debriefing and trauma counselling should be provided where employees have been exposed to blood or body fluid.
Shiftwork refers to work undertaken by a guard in segments/shifts or during extended hours. For example, a security guard often works during segments of a day when they would normally sleep. Typical hazards include the disruption of natural body rhythms, sleep disruption and fatigue.
Employers should reduce the number of times a guard is required to work 10 hours in a shift. Guards who work extended hours should be compensated by offering them a longer break before their next shift.
Employers should minimise the number of consecutive night shifts that guards work, or organise permanent night shift arrangements for guards.
There should be a minimum of eight hours break before resuming an 8 hour shift and a minimum of 12 hours break for a shift longer than 8 hours. A 24 hour break should be given before rotating to a new shift.
Work practices should allow for employees to take breaks within and between shifts. Options could include:
- in a 3 shift system, a forward rotating roster (that is, a progression through morning-afternoon-night shifts)
- a maximum of 5x8-hour or 4x12-hour consecutive shifts in a week cycle
- schedule one or more rest breaks, not including ordinary meal breaks, during night shift
- allow a reasonable notice of a shift roster to guards who will be affected by the roster to avoid fatigue. Do not place rostered days off in the middle of a night shift sequence
Violence and Aggression
Violence and aggression refer to any situation where an employee is abused, threatened or assaulted at work. Employees need to be trained in recognising the early signs of aggression and action to be taken if someone becomes aggravated.
Avoiding potential trouble
The primary role of the security guard is to 'OBSERVE & REPORT'. The employer of security personnel needs to make sure that personnel clearly understand that the employer has a duty to eliminate the risk of personnel being involved in a violent situation. If it's not feasible to eliminate the risk of violence, the employer needs to make sure that the risk is reduced as far as it reasonably can be. A critical part of achieving this control of the risk of violence is personnel being skilled in defusing potentially violent situations. The training in these skills needs to be renewed at regular intervals to ensure the employees competency in applying those skills.
Restraining or detaining
It is recognised that there may be special circumstances where security personnel may have to restrain or detain a person. Those special circumstances are where the personnel's own safety is at risk or when a violent person's actions are placing others at risk and police are not available to deal with the situation. Security personnel should not be expected to use restraining or detaining techniques until they have been appropriately trained and they are competent in the skills. The high risk of injury when using these techniques demands that employers need to conduct regular evaluations of the trained personnel's competency in the techniques.
Security personnel should not, under any circumstances give chase for the purpose of restraining or detaining an intruder, offender or patron.
New staff need to be directly supervised until they are competent in all the skills described in this section.
Acts and Regulations
- Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004
- Occupational Health and Safety (Manual Handling) Regulations 1999
- Occupational Health and Safety (Noise) Regulations 1992
Acts and regulations are available from Information Victoria on 1300 366 356 or order online at www.bookshop.vic.gov.au.
View the legislation at Victorian Law Today at www.legislation.vic.gov.au.
Copies of standards can be obtained by contacting Standards Australia on 1300 654 646 or by visiting the web site at www.standards.com.au.
First aid in the workplace (Code of Practice No.18,1995)
Noise (Code of Practice No.17, 1992)
Alerts and Guidance Notes on a range of topics are downloadable from the WorkSafe Victoria web site: go to www.workcover.vic.gov.au and click on the Guidance Material link.
Codes of Practice and other WorkSafe Victoria publications can also be viewed and downloaded from the WorkSafe Victoria web site. Hard copies of these are available by emailing WorkSafe publications at firstname.lastname@example.org , by phoning 9641 1333 or by visiting your local WorkSafe Victoria office.
Special Note on Codes of Practice: Codes of Practice made under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1985 provide practical guidance to people who have duties or obligations under Victoria's OHS laws. The Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 allows the Minister for Workcover to make Compliance Codes which will provide greater certainty about what constitutes compliance with the OHS laws.
Codes of Practice will continue to be a practical guide for those who have OHS duties and WorkSafe will continue to regard those who comply with the topics covered in the Codes of Practice as complying with OHS laws. WorkSafe will progressively review all Codes of Practice and replace them with guidance material and in appropriate cases, with Compliance Codes.
Note: This guidance material has been prepared using the best information available to WorkSafe Victoria. Any information about legislative obligations or responsibilities included in this material is only applicable to the circumstances described in the material. You should always check the legislation referred to in this material and make your own judgement about what action you may need to take to ensure you have complied with the law. Accordingly, the Victorian WorkCover Authority extends no warranties as to the suitability of the information for your specific circumstances.