Establishing a safe workplace

The role of a security officer is pivotal in ensuring the safety of personnel within a workplace. To be effective, security officers must be provided with the correct tools and equipment, including personal protective equipment (PPE).

Security officers provide many benefits to organisations: they protect the property, equipment and employees from intruders, help monitor the movement of visitors, and can play an important role in resolving interpersonal conflict in the workplace.

They can, for example, remove an employee who is “under the influence” (whether from drugs or alcohol) from the workplace or prevent them from entering the premises and harming themselves or their colleagues. However, even Superman needs protection.

Ravesh Rama, managing direct of Leo Garments, notes: “The basic PPE required for a security officer is generally focused on protecting them from the elements. What is perhaps not considered is the environment in which the security officer is deployed.

“One very rarely sees security officers issued with hearing protection, safety eyewear or even respiratory-support systems, yet they are quite often exposed to the same environmental factors as the other workers.” If the security officer is near or in the workplace, they will most likely require the same PPE as the workers.

Rama notes that a common mistake many companies make when purchasing PPE is to focus only on price. He suggests that a better approach is to consider the total cost of ownership, and the quality and lifespan of the product.

“A cheap rain suit will do the job for only a short time and will need to be replaced,” he points out. With correct planning, companies can afford quality PPE. Companies on the east coast and inland areas, where there is summer rainfall and hot temperatures, for example, need to invest in breathable fabrics.

“Combination garments could actually allow for the purchase of a better quality, breathable garment,” he says. “A breathable rain jacket with a removable fleece lining for cold weather, combined with rain pants, removes the need for a separate rain suit and cold-weather jacket, and could even do away with the need for a jersey.”

Leo Garments forms part of the Rama Group, which includes safety-equipment supplier Glolite, and manufactures a wide range of PPE for security officers.

“We manufacture a full range of protective overwear specific to the security industry, including rain-protective wear, cold-protective wear, high-visibility protective wear and ballistic body armour,” he concludes.

By empowering security officers, companies will be able to keep their premises, equipment and employees safe – and the officers will be better able to perform at their very best.

Companies can further assist security personnel by installing additional security measures such as cameras and alarm systems, access-control systems and security software. With biometric technology, controlling access to the workplace can be simple and inexpensive. Employees register their fingerprints and only authorised personnel can then enter the site or secure areas.

Security software can assist in managing risks and anticipating potential threats through recording, tracking and following up on security trends and incidents.

While controls and systems are important, creating a culture of security at the workplace can also greatly benefit a company. Employees can be encouraged to report any incidents or suspicious behaviour. They need to be aware of potential threats, know the warning signs and be able to quickly communicate with security officers if a security breach takes place.

In an office, employees might have a simple number they can dial to phone security. However, in a more open, unstructured environment, like a mining or construction site, employers will need to think of more innovative ways of ensuring employees can communicate with security personnel quickly and effectively.

Educating employees on the importance of security will also make them more aware of potential security breaches and reduce the number of employees who bend or ignore security protocol. An employee might, for example, be less inclined to allow a stranger into the building with their access card if they are aware of the potential dangers.

Members of staff can also be responsible for crimes in the office. It is important that employees feel comfortable to report any suspicious behaviour among their peers. Employees should also be encouraged to take steps to ensure their own safety by, for example, taking care of their personal belongings.

The company can assist by providing lockers where employees can keep their valuables, or by providing adequate lighting in the parking areas for staff who arrive or leave the workplace after dark. Security officers can also walk an employee to their vehicle if they are parked in an isolated or dark area.

Most workplace crimes can be prevented by investing in security equipment, implementing strict security procedures and supporting security officers, who are often the most important line of defence against crime. While the initial investment might be costly, security measures will ensure that the building, equipment and employees remain safe and operations run smoothly.

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