Literature Review on Occupational Health and Safety Risks in Manned Security Services


This section analyses literature related to the key risks for occupational health and safety hazards in manned security services and the effectiveness of the existing control measures, particularly in the context of healthcare dissertation help. It begins with an overview of the industry, giving a statistical background of the research problem. The review then describes the health and safety services within manned security services. It also provides data on the accidents and ill health statistics of individuals working within various professions and gives an outline of how the manned security sector compares against others. The section concludes with literature focusing on the management of health and safety risks, and control measures in the manned security sector. Overall, the section demonstrates the existing findings in literature related to the research topic.

2.1. Industry Overview in the UK


Over the years, the global commodification of security in the globe led to the creation of the security industry. More specifically, the industry in the UK can be labelled as having four main sectors; manned security services, cyber security services, security subsystems and integrated security systems. The manned security sector generally involves the provision of security services by individuals who act as protective agents or security officers for protecting the assets from different hazards such as unsafe behaviour, damaged property, and criminal activity (Button and George, 2005). In this case, security officers design, guide, and oversee the execution of comprehensive security systems for the fortification of persons and homes, commercial and industrial organizations, and investigate the various crimes against clients. It is classified as a service industry that comprises both public and private sector organisations (Great Britain: Ministry of Defence, 2010).

The functions of manned security corporations in the UK are pervasive and vary across settings. According to Abrahamsen & Williams (2009), manned security services are in demand in hotels, societies, charities, banks, corporations, nightclubs, shopping malls and sporting clubs among other establishments. In this way, they customise the kind of functioning and standards required to meet the accurate quality in demand for a particular client. Their roles generally include providing protection through the utilisation of suitable preventive measures; guarding of premises against any form of unauthorised occupation or access, damage or disorder; and, guarding of property against injury or destruction. Armed men security services help in ensuring a safe and secured environment for all to be shared. Many individuals in public prefer hiring close protection officers, known as bodyguards, who can take care of the individuals who are potentially targeted.

Table 1 below shows some of the functions played by these individuals within their various settings:

Adopted from White (2016)

Adopted from White (2016)

According to research by the Mintel Research group (2015), the value of the sector in the UK has been fluctuating over the last decade due to spikes following significant events. Diphoorn (2016) highlights that the private security industry has witnessed immense growth in scope and size over the last two decades. Given the increase in crime incidences all over the world, manned security services are now experiencing a surge in demand. According to the Office of National Statistics, the police recorded 4.7 million offences in 2016, an increase of 8% compared with 2015. These indicate the burgeoning numbers of personnel in the field indicated by a 4% growth in UK’s manned security market in 2015, reaching a value of more than £3.7 billion with projections in growth expected within the near future (Ahmad, 2015).

2.2 Health and Safety Risks in the Sector

The term “risk” has received a myriad of definitions over the decade with scholars advancing different perspectives of what risk entails. In this paper, risks are defined as the potential of a particular degree of damage to individuals or property owing to exposure to any risk factor (Krahmann, 2016). The author further asserts that risks are not only defined by our physical environment, but also by social comprehension. Dean (1999) also adds to the conceptualisation of risks by asserting that “the connotation of risk is not within the risk itself but within what risk gets attached to”. In this regard, risks are regarded as subjective in nature and vary from setting to setting. This view is imperative in understanding the weight of the concepts within various settings. In relation to manned security services, the expression “risks specific to security activities” refers to “inherent risks,” or those threats that are particularly correlated with the activity and organisation. Macpherson (2009) states that an employer of security guards must ensure that a robust assessment of tasks, locations, roles, environment, work arrangements, vehicles and communication systems is carried out to identify health and safety risks; any foreseeable hazards that may cause harm to the employees and contractors are then eliminated.

Wakefield (2012) divides manned security service-related risks into three categories. These include: (1) the risk from general situations, (2) risks from security services, and (3) risks relevant to the post held. The risk is defined as the possibility of a certain damage that can occur due to exposure to any risk factors and the possibility of damages caused during the period of exposure. Risk factors in the manned security include lack of knowledge regarding the job profile increases the chances of health and safety hazards (Macpherson, 2009). Stress and tension are likely to happen depending on the working situation and the responsibilities one has to fulfil.

Occupational health and safety risks may be due to violence at the workplace, physical workload, exposure to radiation, risks from biological and chemical substances, and the work conditions in a particular place. Conducting risk assessment exercises extensively is necessary to eliminate potential threats; these threats are the reason for accidents, diseases and other kinds of distress. The risk assessment includes a thorough study of what factors may harm people. Employers can understand whether enough precautions have been taken to prevent harm or whether more approaches are required if risk assessments are carried out (Nalla & Wakefield, 2014). Manned security providers are usually at the risk of facing a set of hazards than other average workers. Security guards have more chances of being fatally injured and ill, especially by homicide. Accidents effects the health and wellbeing of security personnel due to the high chances of stress and tension incurred. The individuals must have clear and complete knowledge of the situation in which they are working, the required preventive measures and the responsibilities they have as they work with people from different backgrounds (Krahmann 2016).

Sempere (2011) points out on the areas that possess a threat to the health and safety of all individuals working in the field of manned security service. Some potential risk factors include: working at great heights, manual handling of tasks, confined spaces, extreme weather, vehicles, poor lightening, trips and slips, ventilation and heating, lone working, occupational stress, verbal assault, hazardous biological agents like bacteria, virus and parasites, flammable materials, fire hazards, traffic routes and trapping. Tracy (2009) draws attention to some of the major health and safety issues that these individuals face. Incidences of security guards facing death are six times more than the incidences of deaths of correctional officers. The main reason for the death of security guards is assault on the contrary to the belief that the chief grounds of death are transportation accidents or explosions and firesLoss of life is the major threat faced by all persons working in this industry. Since personal security agents have the responsibility of protecting and defending the client against harm and attacks in all consequences, they often have to undertake risky tasks just for evading danger. The greatest safety related risk for these individuals is the arms and weapons they carry. There is also a risk of death whenever an arm or gun in possession (Abrahamsen &Williams, 2007). Any accidental use of these arms can lead to an undesirable situation or cause death. The security guard may be injured or face death, and chances are that any innocent bystander might get hurt. Security personnel who are responsible for protecting high-ranking officials are at high-risk environment in compared to others (Sempere, 2011). Wiatrowski (2012) outlines some of the risks related to manned security services. Protecting the client may result in any unavoidable circumstance where the security personnel may get gunshot wounds, may become stab victims or be at the risk of serious injury such as accidents.

2.3 Accidents and Ill health statistics

Being a profession with a superfluity of inherent risks, a proper analysis of the statistics of accidents and ill health is necessary to reveal trends within the UK. Previous literature has continued to highlight the plethora of challenges experienced by security personnel resulting to accidents or disease. Among one of the key observations in this literature review was the relative lack of information concerning occupational safety in the UK. The researcher conducted searches through the internet and discovered that the Health Service Executive (HSE) does not put records of statistics in the UK security sector. A further search revealed that there is also a lack of these statistics from the private sector. This provides further justification of the need for the current study and the need to implement revolutionary policies directed at overhauling the system in place. In this case, a case study of the US will be utilised to give a descriptive overview of the nature of the manned security in general. The general assumption is that the statistics between the two nations are somehow correlated but one is not a direct representative of the other.

As per the Bureau of Labour Statistics in the US, 488 security guards faced job-related deaths between the year 2003 and 2009. Furthermore, ninety-four percent of the security guards who are fatally injured are men; however, this figure is not surprising since men contribute to around 80 percent of all security guards. Nearly 26.4 percent or a quarter of the deaths takes place between midnight and 4 a.m. It has only been lately that the manned security service industry is maintaining a track of assault statistics and determining the key patterns in risk for health and safety. These individual face much higher official number of assaults of 12 to 20 percent. Security officers frequently do not report such situations because they have a feeling that it is a part of their job and that they are to face such threat of security responsibility routinely.

2.3 Accidents and Ill health statistics 2.3 Accidents and Ill health statistics

Sourced from the US Bureau of Labour Statistics (2009)

Wiatrowski (2012) quotes that security forces include bouncers, bodyguards, watch guards and armoured car guards. The nature of the duties includes patrolling, guarding, and monitoring of premises for prevention against violence, infractions of rules and theft. In an analysis of statistics from the US Bureau of Labour Statistics, Wiatrowski (2012) found out that the rate of fatal injuries to security guards was 9.4 fatalities per 100,000 workers. Eighty-four fatal occupational injuries took place among security guards in the year 2007. This was more than the average of 68 fatalities per year between 2003 and 2006. Homicides form a significant percentage of fatal work injuries faced by security guards. Fifty-one percent of safety guard fatalities were due to homicides. Forty-seven percent committed by a customer or client, thirty-three percent by a robber, and the remainder by an unknown assailant. Falls were the most common incident causing injuries to security guards, occurring at a rate of 27.5 per 10,000 individuals in the year 2007 (Wiatrowski, 2012). A very vital aspect is that senior security guards make up a higher proportion of illnesses and injuries related to the occupation in comparison with older workers in other industries. The percentage of injured or ill security guards having age above 65 years is 6.2 percent. This is three times higher than the percentage of all private workers of 2.2 percent, in the year 2007 (BLS, 2009).

Although this section has involved the analysis of the security industry in the US, it is key to note that the data was collected from a nation with comparatively high rates of crime than the UK. In fact, the rate of crime in the US is 22% higher than that in the US (NationMaster, 2017). The same publisher asserts that the rates of murders with firearms per millions of population in the US is 138 more times than that of the UK (NationMaster, 2017). In general, the total crimes in the US are 82% more than those in the UK (NationMaster, 2017). In this case, the statistics above may have a large deviation from the trues state of the security industry in the UK. Nevertheless, they offer a quick overview of the nature of the security industry in Western nations.

2.4 Management of health and safety risks including control measures

Adequate control measures are to be put in place for minimizing risks to employees of manned security service agencies. Furthermore, they must regularly develop and made to undergo evaluation. Employees must be provided with the required instructions, information, supervision, and training for enabling them to carry out the work in a healthy and safe manner and also develop and document operating procedures for this purpose (Ertaul & Sudarsanam , 2005). The overall system has to be monitored on a regular basis and reviews carried out meeting the fast-changing needs. Security workers are at daily risk of threats, assault, and abuse (Wakefield 2012). Kinsey (2005) states that prevention of occupational hazards, regarding safety and health, is a vital issue among the important agendas of manned security service sector. Areas of the private security sector occupational hazards are common. All allied organisations must maintain minimum standards of health and safety for these personnel and must ensure the reduction and elimination of all levels occupational hazards. Organisations revise these standards on a regular basis and consultation with the principal stakeholders is very much crucial in all aspects. Competent authorities usually intervene when it comes to such kind of revision of guidelines. Ertaul and Sudarsanam (2005) support this idea and state that prevention of occupational hazards is crucial and training is to be given for ensuring the development of modern techniques and methods that would guarantee the safety of the employees who are often exposed to the delicate side of this job.

Crawford and Lister (2006) have the viewpoint that it is the responsibility of the clients to adhere to the legislations for health and safety. A Health and Safety Representative has to advise management of regulations and has to define the different procedures. There have to be strict rules for identifying risks and ensuring adherence to measures that provides a safer work environment. It is the responsibility of the employee to work safely and adhere to the regulations and guidelines put in place for safety (HSE, 2016). The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, referred to as HASAW or HSW, is the main piece of UK health and safety legislation that places a duty on all employers to ensure the health, safety, and welfare at work of all their employees. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require employers to have measures to control health and safety risks (HSE, 2016).

Button (2007) asserts that the significance and growth of the role of private manned security services have been the reason why many countries are paying attention to the legislation governing the safe and legitimate nature of work of manned security services. Some industrialized nations have taken up effective measures and introduced standards and structures that may vary significantly among themselves (Great Britain: Ministry of Defence, 2010). It is seen in North America that a minimal standard has been mandated focusing on character. In contrast to this scenario, in European countries, standards are comprehensive and they include different mandatory training. In Wales and England, the year 2001 marked the introduction of any legal interventions and eventual unfolding of the system, only to cause debate regarding its effectiveness. Pre-employment screening is required to evaluate capabilities of individuals to carry out this role as any discrepancy may have a profound effect on the personal and professional life of the security guards (Button, 2007).

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2.5. Summary

The literature reviewed above emphasises that manned security service is an important part of our daily life, covering all possible forms of personal security services. All individuals working in this industry face numerous workplace hazards, particularly assaults, and this is a concern with progressively developing with time as the industry is likely to witness considerable growth in the coming years. There is a lack of substantial literature on the status of the UK in manned security thus the paper has taken a case study of the US to study the different risks that these service providers face and the effectiveness of the already existing control measures. There is an absolute need to carry out further research on the occupational health and safety risks of manned security services as there is a need to have an in-depth knowledge of this area. A thorough analysis of the risk factors of health and safety hazards would help in constructing new policies in this field and lead to the implementation of advanced strategies to face the challenges this industry faces. If the inferences drawn from the research becomes practical, then developments in the workplaces will be effective.


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