Being the “first line of defence” and exposed to various functions, the safe conduct by security personnel will always be a major challenge. The emphasis placed on safety and safe working procedures has a direct impact on the way in which security functions are conducted, compared to years ago. Add to this the emphasis that users of security place on safety, in especially mining and industrial operations, and security business leaders are faced with major challenges.
Small to medium sized security businesses could travel as many as 22 000 km per day with as many as 200 vehicles, which in itself is evidence of the risk exposure of the security industry. Security Officers man positions where thousands of vehicles and pedestrians pass by them daily; they man facilities in remote areas and are often times at a distance from immediate support; they conduct follow-up operations on theft incidents in remote mining areas and are exposed to criminal elements and personal attacks on them. Security Officers operate heavy equipment which includes the manual handling of steel gates, climbing up on trucks to check loads, open and close vehicle doors and perform many other tasks that expose them to risk.
With the security industry not being in the higher remuneration bracket, many Security Officers reside in areas where poverty is rife and conditions not always ideal, especially in the rural areas. It is debateable what percentage of security personnel live in conditions that provide them with sufficient rest, thereby minimising the impact of fatigue, and whether their diets are healthy enough to minimise fatigue. Many drivers of security vehicles do not own their own vehicles and the security vehicles are traditionally the only vehicles they drive.
Equipping Security Officers as first-aiders, fire fighters, health and safety representatives; and exposing Security Managers to and training them in the Occupational Health and Safety or Mine Health and Safety Acts, is simply not enough. Traditional uniforms are inadequate protection against the cold of winter. Normal driver tests are not meeting the standard of the users of security services. What has been acceptable and a standard ten years ago, is insufficient in the provision of security services going forward – change has come about and many more changes will come to light in the future.
The addition of Safety Managers in security companies has become an inevitable overhead and in many operations on the mines, dedicated security Safety Officers are employed. Private security companies have their own safety and fatigue management plans and the integration of safety into quality management systems is a future necessity. The focus on security management training, specifically on safety and the higher level training such as the Safety Management Training Course (SAMTRAC), becomes more popular and a major advantage for companies going forward with safety amongst their operations and workforce. By adding Incident Investigations courses for Security Managers, security businesses are better equipped to determine root causes for safety incidents, from which corrective action can be taken.
In a time frame when security businesses are under severe pressure due to the downturn in the economy, higher than inflation wage increases and high fuel prices, these expenses directly affect the profitability but are mere necessities in the business obligation towards employees and customers to whom they provide services. Security business owners, Directors and Managers should portray their true Safety leadership skills, ensuring that the industry meets the minimum requirements of safe working environments for their employees.
Thorburn Security Solutions Northern Region has done just that, with the recent appointment of Sipho Madonsela as the company Health and Safety Manager. Sipho is qualified in the Safety and Management Training Course (SAMTRAC) as well as Incident Investigations. He has a wealth of knowledge in various industries including the past six years at Evraz Highveld Steel and Vanadium, where he performed the functions of a safety security and training manager.