Putting safety first:
a zero tolerance approach to harm
Delivering world class security for our clients is a complicated business. There are myriad nuances to consider. A thousand little details to address. It requires the precise movement of hundreds of moving parts. However, for all our intricacies, security companies are also rather straightforward. At our core, we are all about our people.
Day in and day out, we rely on our security officers to keep our clients’ people, property, and assets safe from harm. It is our employees that make us the companies we are, which permits the leaders of our industry to rise above the rest. We may be comprised of countless little pieces, but they are our most valuable resource.
So that raises a critical question: Are we taking adequate steps to enhance their safety and health? In other words, are we doing enough to protect the protectors?
We live in tumultuous times. Societies, technology, and the manner of work are all undergoing rapid transformation. These changes have implications for the business, certainly, but they also mean the risks faced by our personnel are evolving. Our safety programmes must keep pace. A safety and health programme that tries to maintain the status quo is almost assuredly moving backward.
Many safety programmes were built, first and foremost, on the need to meet safety and health regulations. But while compliance assurance is a key element in a successful safety and health programme, it is only a baseline. It is merely a starting point. Regulations are often insufficient to protect workers and typically move too slow to keep pace with changes in risk. If a compliance mindset is the primary driver of worker safety and health, one should expect that a gradual degradation in performance is likely to go unnoticed.
To truly advance worker safety and health, safety programmes must focus on goals in addition to regulatory compliance. Programmes must continually move forward, improve, and reflect advances in safety management practice, theory, and controls. They must be flexible, responsive, and continuously measure a variety of indicators of safety performance.
In a mature safety environment, companies should be able to talk about many aspects of safety at once, without fear that any one discussion will dominate or compromise the others. A company should be able to examine injury rates without fear that the company will view it as the only—or even the most important—measure of safety. And companies should be able to talk about individual behaviour and responsibility without it diminishing the importance of organisational cultural issues. All areas are important, and we need to work on them simultaneously. Our people deserve it.
The International Security Ligue is an association of private security organisations responsible for defining, establishing and maintaining the highest ethical and professional standards of the private security industry worldwide. The current issue of their bi-annual publication is dedicated to the issue of employee safety.