This is the final part of the 3 article series on the PSA28:2013 standard for the Irish security industry. Last weeks article on the management of threats and violence by security employers received a lot of feedback on what companies were doing well and what they weren’t doing so well. I suspect this article will be the same. This week we will talk about the training and operational requirements contained in the standard and how they are being interpreted on the ground.
Many people wrongly assume that training in the security industry begins and ends with the PSA licence. That’s never what the PSA licence required training was meant to be about as I discussed in a previous article. There are many requirements for further training contained in the standard but unfortunately there are also gaps and vagueness around accreditation’s and quality of training.
When it comes to training the basic stuff is outlined first in the standard. No employee is allowed work operationally without having received induction training covering the basic safety and administration content. We all know some employers who don’t stick strictly to this but it’s a risky game. I’ve seen personal injury claims cases lost by employers based solely on this one ground.
Each person then has to be trained by a competent person on each site and at least their first shift on site has to be accompanied. They must be continued to be accompanied until the trainer can say they have completed the site specific training plan.
This is one of my areas of concern for the industry. The quality of supervision in the security industry is overall quite low (even though there are a lot of excellent supervisors out there). This is not necessarily the fault of the supervisor. They have generally received very little formal training and are usually shown the ropes by a manager who themselves have very little formal training. The standard lets the industry down here a little. The standard says that ALL supervisors and managers should receive training in line with their position. It doesn’t say what that training has to be nor does it say that it has to be formally accredited. So they go off and complete some in-house training which has no accreditation or attends some self accredited course with a training organisation and receive a certificate not worth the paper it’s printed on. Frontline staff have to undergo formal nationally accredited training to start work so why not managers and supervisors? There are qualifications at both level 5 and 6 on the QQI framework which are ideal for this purpose if only the PSA would make it prescribed.
Refresher training has to completed every two years covering all aspects of a security operatives role.
Pretty simple here. If part of your role involves a specialist task then you have to be given specialist training by a qualified trainer. The examples given in the standard include fire, safe pass or first aid but also says it extends to any area identified by risk assessment (remember my issue on this in article 2?). This potentially could include conflict management and physical intervention training for door supervisors etc.
The first part of the operations sections covers an area already spoken about last week which is risk assessments . It says that a risk assessment must be carried out for every site and that it must be made available on that site.
Command and control
We are getting into the area now of where the security company is operated from. Every company has to have a fit for purpose command and control facility. It can a fixed base or contracted third-party control facility but it must exist somewhere.
It has to cover the hours of operation of the company at a minimum. A comprehensive command and control manual which should have immediate action plans for all contingencies that can be foreseen should be on site. This is both so that the controller can advise the security operative on the ground and so they can escalate situations correctly to management when required. The security procedure template here may be of benefit to those designing such a manual.
A key criteria is that the command and control facility is fit for purpose (ie cant also be the bosses spare bedroom) and contains proper storage, communication, fire equipment, first aid and adequate heating and lighting.
Again this is a difficult area for a lot of companies. Records of all incidents, check calls and employee time sheets etc are maintained for three years. This creates a storage issue over time when a company begins to grow. The ideal solution is to take these records paperless but that again requires significant investment.
An assignment instruction is basically a standard operating procedures manual which has to be site specific and designed for every site. It is maintained and updated on site and available to all staff. They have to contain firstly a method of summoning help at any time while operational.
It should also contain at a minimum:
- Working hours and hand over requirements.
- Emergency procedures.
- Communications procedures.
- Specifically requested services.
- Clients’ facilities, vehicles or equipment.
- Welfare facilities for staff.
- Access control and searching facilities
- The accountability for, and any restrictions concerning,
- Safety statement.
- Risk assessment.
- Confirmation of on-site training and familiarization for each
Level of supervision on site and role of supervisor(s).
Implementation of PSA ID requirements.
- Sign-off on assignment instructions by both a senior officer of
the organisation and relevant operational staff.
This is one of the areas I always look at when I’m looking at security companies and sites. The quality of the SOP’s given to security staff gives a lot of insight into how the security team will perform. The SOP’s will only ever be as good as the person who writes them. The best SOP manuals are written by people properly trained and qualified to do so having gotten input from those on the frontline.
This three-part series was an analysis of the PSA28:2013 standard. I know at times over the three articles I began to wander into my own suggestions on how to improve it and I apologise if that took away from the articles. I did it because I honestly believe that the standard is a very good one but has the potential to be some much better with some tweaks. A little more independent oversight. Some more emphasis on training at senior levels and some help from technology and the PSA to streamline the admin process. Any standard is a working document and so should this be. It’s now 5 years so perhaps its time for a review?