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Corps Security Publishes Research Assessing The Key Reasons Behind Security Officers’ Susceptibility To Covid-19

There are a number of factors that may be contributing to security officers having one of the highest death rates of any occupation, according to a new report commissioned by Corps Security from Perpetuity Research and Consultancy International.

The Office for National Statistics published data in May which revealed that security officers have one of the highest death rates from Covid-19 – 45.7 deaths per 100,000 people.

The seven issues the research points to are:

  • Low-paid occupations were found to have the highest rates of death involving Covid-19 and front-line security is typically low-paid.
  • The role of security officers generally involves close proximity and frequent interactions with others, and this was found to be a significant risk factor for contracting Covid-19, albeit it is not known whether security officers generally worked in a similar way in the crisis. However, their risk factor relating to exposure was not rated as high as healthcare personnel; the level of virus found in healthcare settings is much greater than among the general public yet death rates for healthcare staff are lower than for security officers.
  • Older people appear to be more vulnerable to Covid-19 compared to their younger counterparts and experience less favourable outcomes. Analysis of licences issued by the Security Industry Association (SIA) in 2019 suggests that 21% were obtained by those over 55 years of age, compared to the UK average for all occupations of 19% of the workforce in that age group. Yet 42% of those with a manned guarding licence, were issued to those over 55 years of age.
  • More men than women have been affected by Covid-19 and because approximately 90% of security personnel are men, the risk factor for the sector overall is higher than occupations with a lower proportion of males.
  • Not all groups in the UK have been affected by Covid-19 equally and ethnicity appears to be a significant risk factor. Nearly a third of security officers are from Black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds and vulnerability is linked to both genetic, social and economic factors. Within this group, Black Africans, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis appear to be particularly vulnerable and they are overrepresented among security officers.
  • The very nature of the role of security officers influences their risk to Covid-19. Being a frontline key worker may mean encountering conflict when trying to enforce Covid-19 guidelines; this may make social distancing more difficult. They also have to touch equipment and technology others have handled on a regular basis and may find it difficult to ensure they carry out frequent handwashing.
  • Many security roles are located in major cities and some of these, particularly in London, the Midlands and south-east have been particularly hard hit by Covid-19, affecting the vulnerability of those working there.

The full report can be downloaded here.

>> Download Report

The research was carried out through desktop analysis of a number of data sources.

“The ONS data made for difficult reading for the security profession. We wanted to know why security officers were so affected by the virus so we could better support and protect our people. This report gives us valuable insight and we’re delighted to share it with the wider security sector so we can work together and do all we can as an industry to ensure no more security officers die as a result of this terrible virus,” said Mike Bullock, CEO of Corps Security.

“We were delighted to research this key area for Corps,” said Martin Gill, director of Perpetuity Research and one of the report’s authors. “The true picture is complex, with some risk factors almost certainly interrelated, may still be emerging, or even not yet identified. What does seem clear though from this preliminary research is that gender, ethnicity, the nature of the job have all been seen to increase risks and these are all characteristics of security officers.”

Report: Why Is The Death Rate Of Security Officers Comparatively High?

Following the news from the Office of National Statistics that security officers have one of the highest death dates from Covid-19, Corps Security decided to commission research to better understand why. This will allow us to better support and protect our people.

We’re delighted to share it with the wider security sector so we can work together to ensure no more of our people die as a result of this terrible virus.

Download Report

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The Role Of Security Officers Post-Covid - Hardly A Low-Skilled Activity

“The UK’s 360,000 contract security officers work in environments where the risk of injury or worse is often high –  the retail sector and hospital A&E departments both being key examples. They get injured, knocked about, and yet they save lives. Corps Security is not alone in a sector where our officers have saved lives whether by using defibrillators, or preventing a distressed person from jumping off a tall building. Does any of that sound like ‘low-skill’ activity?”

That was Corps’ Mike Bluestone kicking off a webinar yesterday discussing whether, post-Covid, security officers would enjoy an enhanced role or more of the same.  “Low skilled security officers is the picture often painted in the media. People forget that the possession of skills is only one type of competency. Experience and knowledge are equally important, which many security officers possess in bucketloads.”

Bluestone went on to talk about how the Covid crisis has seen security officers get involved in hands-on health and safety functions including using thermal detection devices and enforcing social distancing – both being sensitive roles which require special training and customer care skills and training. At Corps Security for example, there are 26 elearning courses available for officers to take on line, including courses developed specifically to cover Covid-19, the health and safety implications, and use of technology.

“The experience gained during the current crisis has evidenced the change in the perception of security officers. Their role is one of the essential roles which has been a constant during the crisis. They’ve remained on the front line taking care of people and corporate assets, and they have maintained a constant presence during the crisis, despite all the challenges, and threats,” said Bluestone.

The webinar also discussed the terminology of officer v guard; security through a possible recession; and the need for a mix of both security officers and security technology. Chaired by Martin Gill, the webinar also heard from Cy Oatridge, CEO/President, Oatridge Security Group; Garry Evanson, Head of Security and Emergency Planning, at Westminster Abbey; and Jon Sigurd Jacobsen, Owner of SOS Event Security Ltd in Norway.

If you missed it, the recording is here: https://bit.ly/2AZJR9O

For further information on how Corps is working to support our colleagues and customers during this time please take a look at our dedicated Covid-19 page or contact us on covid19@corpssecurity.co.uk and we’ll do our best to help.

Security Officers Post Covid-19

Has the time come to recognise the dynamic role good security officers play? Or do we need to recognise that post Covid-19, when economic realities bite, their role will be back to what it was pre the crisis, at best?

Those are just some of the questions that will be debated by Mike Bluestone from Corps Security and other panellists at an upcoming webinar at 3.30pm on Tuesday 9 June.

>> Register Here

The thought leadership webinar, run by the OSPAs, Perpetuity Research and TECAs, will also explore whether the involvement of security officers in more varied tasks, spell a dilution of the security officers’ roles or an enhancement of their position?

Sign up for your free place here.

For further information on how Corps is working to support our colleagues and customers during this time please take a look at our dedicated Covid-19 page or contact us on covid19@corpssecurity.co.uk and we’ll do our best to help.

Why Are Security Officers More Likely To Die From Covid-19 Than Other Professions?

Last week, the Office of National Statistics published the sobering news that security officers have one of the highest death dates from Covid-19  – 45.7 deaths per 100,000 people.

As a major employer of security officers, this was extremely worrying news to us as an organisation. We’ve been doing everything we can to protect our people during the pandemic. You can read more about what we’ve done here.

Although we are fortunate that we haven’t lost any of our colleagues to Covid-19, this got us thinking – why are security officers so disproportionately affected? In many ways the answer is obvious.

Sex: Men are far more likely to die from Covid-19 than women. Up to 1 May 2020, there were 33,408 deaths registered in England and Wales involving coronavirus of which 19,130 were men and 14,278 women accoridng to the ONS. Men are therefore 33% more likely to die from the virus than women. Despite an increase in women in the security sector, it remains a male dominated industry. Data from the SIA reveals that just 9% of employees in the security sector are female.

Age: Covid-19 tends to affect older people. Up to 1 May 2020, just 384 people aged up to 44 years old had died from the virus in the UK. But 3,529 people aged 45 to 64 years old – a key age bracket for security officers – died. These numbers increase as people get older.

Ethnicity: The risk of death involving the virus among some ethnic groups is significantly higher than that of those of white ethnicity according to ONS data. Black males are 4.2 times more likely to die from Covid-19 than white males. Similarly, men of Bangladeshi and Pakistani origin were 1.8 times more likely to have a Covid-19-related death than white males. While this is partly a result of socio-economic disadvantage, the remaining difference has not yet been explained. A large percentage of security officers describe themselves as non-white.

Location: The ONS data reveals that London has the highest age-standardised mortality rate from Covid-19 with 85.7 deaths per 100,000 persons. This is statistically significantly higher than any other region and almost double the next highest rate. A large propotion of the UK’s security officers are London-based.

Occupation: overall people in lower-paid manual jobs face a higher risk of dying from the virus. Men in low-skilled jobs are four times more likely to die from Covid-19 than their professional counterparts – with 21.4 deaths per 100,000 people, compared with 5.6 among white-collar male workers.

While these statistics go some way to explaining why security officers have one of the highest death dates from Covid-19, they must not serve as a reason to do nothing. Even one security officer death as a result of this pandemic is a tragedy. We must work together and do all we can as an industry to ensure no more of our people die as a result of this terrible virus. As an organisation, we’re commissioning industry research into this area and will share more information shortly.

For further information on how Corps is working to support our colleagues and customers during this time please take a look at our dedicated Covid-19 page or contact us on covid19@corpssecurity.co.uk and we’ll do our best to help.

Getting Sites Ready For Reoccupation - A Security Perspective

With talk of the lockdown easing in the next few weeks, many security and facilities professionals are turning their attention to planning for the reoccupation of sites. Security is often one of the few facilities functions which will have had a presence on site throughout the vacant period and security teams will therefore play a key role in getting facilities ready for the return to work.

Here are our top tips for delivering a safe and secure reoccupation:

  • The security officer on site may be the main point of contact for other contractors, including cleaning staff and maintenance engineers, who are also getting the building ready for reoccupation so make sure they know what’s expected of them and who will be in the building when.
  • Inform your insurance company when the building will become reoccupied.
  • As soon as a date for reoccupation is known, then security levels will need to be readjusted. If a site has moved way from manned guarding to a technology-led approach, now might be the time to start to bring back security officers. Reoccupation will be gradual, but businesses may need an increased security presence to support people in the new ways of working.
  • Plan the customer journey through the front-of-house area and adapt it with social distancing and contactless in mind. Consider:
    • Providing security staff with appropriate PPE such as gloves and masks, particularly if they’ll be handling visitors’ bags when they’re scanned etc.
    • Installing transparent screens in front of security officers at reception/ concierge desks
    • Placing graphics on the floor to show employees and visitors where to go and how to ensure social distancing
    • Changing the check-in/ security procedures to reduce human contact. This could include removing the need for access cards for visitors or ensuring they are disinfected between use; and working with the cleaning team to ensure that turnstiles, gates, reception counters  together with any scanning equipment are regularly cleaned and disinfected
    • Introducing anti-bacterial gel in reception areas
  • Explore what technology you can use to keep people safe.
    • Thermal imaging cameras to check for abnormally high human temperatures – a symptom of Covid-19 – may become widespread. This will allow organisations to protect their people from the virus while also supporting them to reopen their buildings and get back to business. Decide whether to opt for fixed or hand-held cameras.
    • Occupancy counters installed in reception areas are good for ensuring a building doesn’t go over its planned capacity as buidings are reoccupied.
  • Decide how to adapt emergency evacuations with social distancing in mind. In the event of a fire, is social distancing important or is the fire the greater threat?
  • Train security officers in the new ways of working and use of any new technology together with their new role in ensuring people’s safety. Has what’s expected of them changed?
  • Finally, before people move back in, carry out a full security risk assessment to ensure the building is safe and secure.

We’ve set up a dedicated coronavirus support team to answer any questions about the impact of coronavirus on your business. Please contact us on covid19@corpssecurity.co.uk and we’ll do our best to help.

ONS Stats Make For Sober Reading For Security Industry

The news from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) that security officers have one of the highest death dates from Covid-19  – 45.7 deaths per 100,000 people – make for difficult reading for the security profession.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) related deaths >>

Some weeks ago, the Government classified licence-holding security professionals as critical workers which meant that many of our colleagues have been on the front line throughout this pandemic. When the rest of the building occupants have been working from home, security officers have been protecting empty buildings or supporting the skeleton staff remaining.

Within the Corps Security family, we have been relatively lucky. We haven’t lost any of our colleagues to the virus. But we are not complacent and are constantly looking for new ways to look after our people. When the pandemic started, we took immediate action to protect our teams and have been amending those provisions as the situation changes.

  • We furloughed all 64 front-line officers who were classified as extremely vulnerable to the virus and needed shielding
  • We’ve changed the shift patterns and working arrangements of another 94 staff members
  • We made sure our people self-isolated where they or their families had symptoms
  • We’ve supplied PPE to our sites where required, including masks, gloves, goggles, anti-bac gel and anti-bac wipes for equipment use – another 10,000 pairs of gloves and 9,000 masks will arrive across all our offices this week to support the new guidance about wearing masks on public transport
  • We’ve introduced Covid-19 site audits for all our client sites to ensure we’re providing the best possible support in keeping our officers safe
  • We’ve also introduced a short form risk assessment to support the Covid-19 site audits and provide feedback to our officers and clients
  • We’ve launched a mandatory Covid-19 online training module for our security officers to ensure they have all the information they need to keep themselves – and others – safe
  • Our line managers are having regular one-to-one check-ins with our security officers who are furloughed to make sure they’re feeling well, both mentally and physically. We’re long-term supporters of Combat Stress and have a strong understanding of how people can be affected mentally by being on the front line

Overall we’re listening to what our security officers need – they’re on the front line of this outbreak.  But even one security officer death as a result of this pandemic is a tragedy. We must work together and do all we can as an industry to ensure no more of our people die as a result of this terrible virus.

We’ve set up a dedicated coronavirus support team to answer any questions about the impact of coronavirus on your business. Please contact us on covid19@corpssecurity.co.uk and we’ll do our best to help.

When did you join Corps and what does your current role involve?

I Joined Corps Security in January 2019, as Duty Security Shift Manager at Guy’s & St Thomas’ Hospital in Westminster, so I’m still fairly new here. It’s an extremely busy role managing all the varied shift patterns for our team of security officers and dealing with any security related issues that may arise. I also attend back up calls for urgent security assistance around the hospital.

Can you tell us a little about your career background / what was your first job?

Security is all I’ve known since I was 18. I started out as security officer at Lloyds Bank head office. After 26 years of working in corporate security I joined Corps, so coming to work in a hospital was a totally new challenge for me. It’s completely different and you see things that you wouldn’t normally see in your lifetime.

If you weren’t in security, what would you be doing as a career?

I would probably have served in the armed forces – but lucky for me I secured my first security role at 18.

What’s your favourite thing about your job?

I like the hospital because every day is different. The fact that it’s non-stop all day and night means a shift goes very quickly. In fact, there is sometimes not enough time to finish everything before the next shift starts. It’s all go, go, go!

What are the main challenges you face in your daily role?

Working in a hospital means you’ve got to think fast. Because each day is different, I need to be agile and ready to deal with any situation during my shift – from being under pressure juggling multiple tasks to problem solving.

What would you say has been your biggest achievement whilst working for Corps?

I’m still quite new to Corps but integrating successfully as part of such a brilliant team here at the hospital and having the opportunity to work with such great people has been a key achievement for me.

What do you like doing outside of work?

I’m a big family man, so I like to spend time with my wife and daughter outside work. We do lots together from shopping, going out to visit different places and trying new restaurants. We have a lot of fun!

What are your aspirations?

I aspire to become a better person and to grow and develop. I think Corps will give me the opportunity to do this to because I can learn from other people at the hospital and the wider Corps team.