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ONS figures on officer deaths are "extremely worrying" asserts Magenta's leader

14 May 2020

MAGENTA SECURITY'S managing director Abbey Petkar has responded to the Office for National Statistics' (ONS) "extremely worrying" figures on security officer deaths due to COVID-19 by stating that there's more to those statistics than immediately meets the eye.

“I cannot express how strongly I feel that managers and directors within the security sector have responsibility for the lives of our dedicated workforce of professional guards,” explained Petkar in the wake of the shocking ONS figures reported by Security Matters

A provisional analysis of COVID-19 related deaths by occupation in England and Wales for the period up to and including 20 April suggests that males aged between 20 and 64 and working as security officers have one of the highest death rates, with 45.7 deaths per 100,000 (63 deaths in total).

Petkar continued: “There is no denying the fact that the figures suggest security officers are at high risk, but let’s not forget that their dedication means they have continued to work throughout the crisis. In addition, the industry has a proportionally high level of BAME males within its ranks. These two factors mean we have a statistically more at-risk workforce demographic putting themselves in higher risk situations.”

Further, Petkar is quick to point out that the ONS report also contains a number of caveats around the data that must also be considered rather than just solely focusing on the headlines. “For example, the report does not take into consideration those individuals with whom a security officer might be living and their occupations. There are a number of other factors that could increase the risk as well.

Of course, security officers are ultimately part of a front line, people-facing workforce. This means they are at greater risk than those individuals who are able to work from home at the present time. Petkar stated: “Therefore, those of us managing security officers must do our utmost to protect them. Ultimately, there is no reason they should be at a higher risk of falling prey to the virus than many others in similar occupations if the right measures are in place to support them. Yes, they are more likely to come into contact with other people. They are more likely to handle goods due to postal deliveries, etc. They are more likely to be the first person someone speaks to when they visit commercial premises, too, but we can protect them if we make it our priority.”

Poster statistic

As far as Petkar's concerned, professional security companies need to consider all of these factors when putting into place their plans, policies and subsequent equipment to protect the workforce. 

“PPE is of course high on the list, but so are the many other measures that can and must be considered to ensure that our industry is not used as a poster statistic. This is, after all, one competition that no-one wants to win.”

Petkar observed: “Security companies need to consider how they can use technology more effectively, limit physical contact for their officers and put significant barriers in place to eliminate the transfer of germs. Technology will be a part of so many solutions to this crisis across all business sectors, and our industry is no different. How are we using technology and how can we use it better? Also, we need to consider what ideas we draw from other industries.”

Most importantly, Petkar is firmly focused on the overriding need to teach officers how to protect themselves. “We need to instil in them an understanding of the risks, an understanding of what can be done to mitigate them and, quite frankly, an understanding of when they can put their own health first and when a request is unreasonable and should be referred to management.” 

In conclusion, Petkar said: “On the whole, a security officer usually works alone and, therefore, social distancing measures should not be difficult to put in place. They should all be reminded of the need for face coverings when necessary, and particularly so on public transport, in addition to the relevant use of gloves and frequent hand washing. I really believe that it's this understanding and learning that will allow them to be safer. It is our responsibility as managers to address this issue and I implore the industry as a whole to do everything possible to minimise the risks for every security officer.”

*Magenta Security has compiled a list of 'Health Tips for Life and Work During the COVID-19 Lockdown' by obtaining Best Practice advice from the World Health Organisation, the NHS, mental health charities and, indeed, members of the business' own experiences of living and working while maintaining social distancing