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when it comes to the ongoing spread of
the Coronavirus in our society.
The lowest paid jobs have also been
linked to higher mortality rates. Again,
this isn’t a perfect correlation, with
security officers showing a much higher
mortality rate than most on comparable
pay levels. Numerous studies in the UK
explore how particular groups struggle
to access healthcare. Using this data, it
would be greatly valuable to explore
whether those in certain occupations are
less able to attain the healthcare they
require and whether working patterns
contribute to more underlying illness.
The factors linking health and wealth
in the UK are both numerous and
complex. Many are built into the socio-economic
system in which we live and
are difficult to unpick as individual
factors. However, there are multiple
significant trends which seem to link
lack of wealth to worse health outcomes.
Similarly, poor job quality and high-stress
roles have been associated with
the development of underlying health
conditions. It could be argued that
security officers face a variety of
‘stressors’ within their day-to-day work,
including the need to work overtime,
shift work and isolation. In addition,
65% of security officers report having
suffered verbal abuse at least once a
month, while 43% suffer threats of
violence on the same timescale.
Security officers have long had to deal
with these kinds of risks in their role
and, given the increased stress the public
is having to deal with due to the global
pandemic, adverse treatment of them
could well burgeon. Stress on the job,
combined with financial strain due to
low pay, can have severe health impacts
totally independent from the pandemic.
As such, Corps Security has long
believed the excellent work of all in the
sector needs to be recognised.
On that note, last year Corps Security
signed up to the Living Wage
Foundation and became an official
provider. This is an ongoing project and
will continue to deliver benefits for our
employees for a long time to come.
Additional risk factors
Other factors for which data collection
could prove valuable include how easy it
is for officers to regularly wash their
hands and whether equipment like
radios is regularly sanitised. We’ve taken
measures to ensure sanitisers and forms
of cleaning equipment are readily
available on site. Frankly, no security
company can afford to fall short on the
supply of these items.
Different areas of the country have
also suffered different rates of virus
spread. Those areas with the highest
mortality rates overall are not
necessarily the ones with the highest
number of security officer deaths.
Understanding the impact of geography,
behaviour and risk factors in various
regions could well be helpful.
There are a great many factors that
influence how badly COVID-19 hits
certain groups of people. All the
research has shown that there’s no single
reason security officer deaths have been
so high. Instead, a web of interacting
factors is at play. Security officers have
been on the front line throughout the
pandemic, dealing directly with people
and regularly risking exposure to the
disease. As we’ve al observed the gradual
spread of the virus, it has become pretty
clear that a host of factors has meant
those working as security officers are
more at risk than most.
A high level of care must be taken in
security roles. There’s no simple fix to
the problem, especially so since security
officers continue to play such a vital part
in keeping others safe. An holistic
solution may include looking at working
conditions as well as seeing how those
employees at higher risk from illness or
disadvantage can best be supported.
There are a number of measures that
most firms have already implemented,
but these need to go further. Those at
high risk due to medical conditions
should have received a shielding letter
from the NHS several months ago.
These officers should not be working on
the front line and it follows that they
absolutely must be strongly supported
through this stressful period.
Financially, initiatives such as the
Government’s furlough scheme have
thus far enabled security officers to look
after themselves without putting
themselves or their families at risk.
Staying in touch with friends and
colleagues online will likely also be a
reassurance as it’s fair to state that
shielding can be a real challenge for
many people’s mental health.
We’ve developed and launched a
mandatory e-Learning module for every
colleague. It covers all key requirements
set out by the Government. This can
help to address common
misconceptions and issues which go
unnoticed. The number of people
wearing a face mask that doesn’t cover
their nose is an obvious demonstration
of why education is still necessary.
Further, we’ve added a new section to
our Colleague Portal that specifically
covers well-being. It focuses on a variety
of topics including nutrition, exercise,
mental health and benefit schemes. As
we now move into the latter stages of the
year, it’s essential that security officers
have direct and easy access to this level
of information and are actively
supported by their employers.
With due care and attention, the risks
posed to security officers can be
managed. An all-inclusive approach that
addresses the underlying causes of those
risks is an absolute necessity.
Mike Bluestone MA CSyP FSyI is
Director of Corps Consult