The growth of private security presents challenges for worker security

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Security guards are part of an industry that experiences a workplace injury rate of 298 per 10,000 full-time workers with a median of 13 days off work. (Photo: Sergey Pazharski / Adobe Stock)

The American workplace is grappling with unprecedented challenges that include COVID-19, rapidly rising wages, staff shortages, supply chain issues and global economic uncertainty.

With personnel changes and the potential for training gaps, the risk of workplace injuries may increase. In this context, employers in the security industry have the opportunity to address and potentially mitigate these issues.

Facts

According to a January 2019 article from Stacker.com, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics has compiled data regarding non-fatal workplace injuries. This study showed that the protective services industry – including police, firefighters and security guards – was the industry with the highest rates of workplace injuries. Compared to 21 other industries in North America, security guards are part of an industry that experiences a workplace injury rate of 298 per 10,000 full-time workers with a median of 13 days of absence.

Like other industries, the private security market has been severely affected by the pandemic. A competitive job market and wage pressures have resulted in an exodus of more experienced private security workers while, at the same time, the demand for private security has increased with the reduction of law enforcement personnel. At the same time, the number of novice candidates in the field of private security has increased significantly.

Sadly, many serious workers’ compensation claims in the first half of 2021 appear to be among these new or less experienced private security workers. Comparatively, the rate of workers’ compensation claims among public sector or government safety workers remains unchanged from previous years. Many of these security guards tend to be former military or police officers with more extensive training.

Based on the types of claims we see in the private security market, and recognizing that many involve less experienced security workers, we recommend placing more emphasis on employer screening, hiring practices and training to better mitigate risks. These measures will help protect workers and reduce the number of workers’ compensation claims in the private security market. This is where experienced agents and brokers can both help employers and further demonstrate the value they bring to the relationship.

Safety training

The largest share of non-fatal injuries among private security personnel in the United States and elsewhere tend to come from slips, trips and falls, according to a report from the International Security League in Switzerland.

For example, security guards assigned to hospitals follow a specific role in the workplace. Above all, they are generally trained not to interfere or assist in the work of health professionals.

However, the most common injury scenario in hospital settings for security guards is when they perform the duties of nurses – helping lift, move and sometimes restrain patients. The resulting injuries range from minor to major, adding to workers’ compensation claims, absences from work and staff security issues in busy hospitals. With additional hands-on training with real-world examples, it is possible that these all-too-common claims can be almost entirely avoided.

While a standard HR practice is to provide new employees with the employee handbook and safety manual on day one, some of these safety documents must be provided at the time of confirmation of hire.

The first day on the job should involve the new employee in observation of a more experienced security professional to provide hands-on training and a list of dos and don’ts from those with experience on the job. the heap. This is especially critical among those hired for weekend and part-time safety work, as these shifts tend to be the most at risk for oversights or gaps in training and experience the highest volume. employee turnover.

The impact of preselection

The importance of screening potential employees cannot be underestimated in terms of worker safety. Insurers and internal risk managers should work with the private security firm‘s human resources professionals to review screening practices and re-emphasize the economic and risk mitigation value of this stage of the hiring process.

In addition to reviewing the employment history of the potential employee, a clear discussion of the responsibilities and potential dangers of working in private security should take place. Carefully designed, safety-focused behavioral questions can provide insight into the potential employee’s safety perspective and any past incidents that have involved them that might predict future decision-making.

Additionally, if the private security firm has a secure employment statement, it should be screened for any deficits that could impact worker safety. If there is no safe employment statement, insurance and risk management professionals can help draft such a statement with the aim of reducing or avoiding the most common workplace accidents that lead to workers’ compensation claims.

Finally, when possible, pre-screening interviews in person rather than by phone or video conference are recommended. It helps to build rapport with the candidate and to offer interpersonal information based on body language and facial expressions.

A place at the table

Managers, human resources professionals and employees all have a role to play in worker safety. Often absent from the table are the insurance or risk management partners of a security firm who are in the business of risk management and mitigation. Their role is sometimes wrongly relegated to purchasing a workers’ compensation policy or answering questions about a new claim. However, experienced insurance professionals can play a vital role in helping employers keep workers safe.

It is important that risk management professionals help employers identify areas of concern or trends that threaten worker safety, advise on changes, and create return to work programs focused on employee safety, as well. a safe and speedy return to work. .

Since March 2020, the U.S. economy has been stress tested in ways few people could have imagined. As businesses attempt to stabilize and workers return to office buildings, construction sites and other workplaces, safety is a fundamental pillar of this emerging sense of “business as usual.” Insurance professionals have a critical role to play in ensuring the safety of these businesses and their security guards.Gamble Cuce (GCuce@brownyard.com) is the Worker's Compensation Program Manager at Brownyard Group, which administers a state-of-the-art insurance program for safety professionals.

Gamble Cuce ([email protected]) is the Workers’ Compensation Program Manager at Brownyard Group, which administers a state-of-the-art insurance program for safety professionals.

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