This week is the third question and answer session from the industry. These are questions that i have answered back to most of the individuals at the time but that I thought the industry as a whole could benefit from. This is usually for one of two reasons. Either I’ve been asked the question a few times or it serves as a warning to others in the industry. The article should have been published two weeks ago. This was because there was a 10th question in the set that I had to get legal advice on. In the end I had to speak to the person individually and remove the question as there is a potential legal issue there for the person and their employer. So we have 9 questions left ranging from protesters to Christmas Day working. As always if you have any follow up questions just let me know.
Q1. Any ideas on general precautions for dealing with protesters
Loads. I’ve written a lot of protest management procedures in the past year or so because of the upsurge in lobby occupations in a range of corporate buildings and protests at front doors. The reality is the less fuss made over them the better. Once they are in they are in. They generally want maximum exposure in the public areas of the building. You can play exactly into their hands by going in all guns blazing and removing them (even if the law says you might be able to deal with trespass in such a way.) Jackpot for them is social media footage of them being dragged out of a building by security staff. That’s PR gold right there and the client becomes the bad guy. Without going into specific procedure writing mode here I usually advise the following as principles.
- Ask the person or group to leave firstly . Confirm that they are refusing to do so.
- Control access via the main doors
- Let the Gardai know that you have an issue. Don’t expect them to attend and don’t expect them to remove the trespasser(s) but at least let them know.
- Arrange alternative access/egress for visitors and staff.
- Don’t allow access to toilets, food etc. and don’t allow people to bring people food etc. If some of the group leave to get food don’t allow them return
- Don’t engage with the trespassers. You may need to arrange extra security for the venue but just as a monitoring and access control function
In my experience once they aren’t getting attention, food or toilets then groups eventually make their point, get bored and hungry and then leave.
Q2. Any suggestions for a good first aid course?
There are loads out there and I strongly encourage security staff to not only complete a FAR (First Aid Responder) course but to go beyond that if possible. For FAR you can go to any provider and do a 3 day course. I’ve done courses with ESTI (Emergency Services Training Institute) over the years. I found those courses really practical and taught by real professionals. You can also move into more advanced courses with them. They are just who I’ve used and there are many more good courses out there. The issue I’ve found with doing a 3 day course and then a refresher 2 years later is skills retention.Especially if you aren’t using them all of the time. A way of avoiding this is to join a medical organisation such as Order of Malta or Civil Defence. This gives you ongoing training on a weekly basis and allows you to spread the cost out. There is a much bigger time commitment though.
Q3. Is ECDL an important course for security?
Depends on where you want to work. If you are standing on the door of a club or working events then ECDL is probably not a benefit. However if you want to work in corporate security, a security manager/consultant, training etc. then ECDL will be a great benefit. Computer skills will be important for all areas of the security industry in years to come but ECDL may well be beyond what most security staff need at the moment. If you do need computer skills at a basic level then there are loads of free online courses you can do before spending money on ECDL.
Q4. I’m working on a site on which the fire extinguishers haven’t been serviced in 4 years. I’ve raised this a few times but nothing has been done. Can I get in trouble if there is an inspection?
As long as you have been recording and reporting the issue then no you cant. The client is ultimately responsible for this and they will be the one who gets in trouble. You just have to cover your own backside on this one. If there is an inspection and they get in trouble you don’t want to leave an opportunity for the client to turn to your company and say that you as the security officer never told them about it. Make sure there is a paper trail of your patrols and make sure that you have recorded each time that you reported the issue and to whom .
Q5. I’ve been told I’m working Christmas Day on my site by my boss. Can I refuse?
Not really no. Working Christmas Day is a reality for many industries. Healthcare, farming, security being just some examples. Not many people like the idea of working Christmas Day but it is required and its all part of the job to be honest. I’ve worked plenty of them over the years. On the plus side it is usually a good opportunity to make some good overtime. Most employers try to prioritize those with children etc. for the time off or those who have already worked a few Christmas Days in previous years. You might not like it but yes you do have to work.
Q6. There are a few lads that are down to work Christmas Day in my place. Most of them don’t drive cars and get buses and LUAS to work. Is the company responsible to pick them up and bring them to work on Christmas Day.
No. Its your own responsibility to arrange transport to and from work. Unless of course there is a safety issue like a storm etc. making it unsafe then your employer has a reasonable expectation that you will show up where you are supposed to. If you cant do it then I suggest that you make your employer aware as early as possible so that you can try to sort something out. Some companies will allow patrol drivers or supervisors to pick up and drop staff but they have no obligation to.
Q7. Worked 3 events in the last 3 months for a guy who was looking for lads on Facebook. He’s ignoring my messages now. I tried to ring the company we were working for. They have no record of me working and no record of the guy. They said that he must work for a contractor and it’s not their problem. How do I get this money?
The truth. You wont. Sorry but it looks like you are out of pocket. I’ve seen this happen so often in the past year or two. Security companies getting bodies from unlicensed subcontractors who then get their staff from friends of friends or from the internet. People end up getting stung despite the security company being paid for you to be there. Learn from it and move on. If you are offered work make sure you confirm who it is for, how much you will be paid, when you will be paid and by whom in advance. Even better than that make sure you get it in writing. Some might come back at me and say that he person employing you wont put it in writing. That’s a big warning sign for me. Stay well away from it.
Q8. There is a guy I work on doors with who is carrying a baton in his inside pocket. Is this allowed? I thought it was against the law? Can I get in trouble if he uses it and I knew he had it.
Two questions there. Firstly, yes it is illegal. Its an offensive weapon and he can arrested just for having it in a public place without even using it. The question of whether you can get in trouble is an interesting one. Criminally no you couldn’t. You aren’t breaking the law and there is no legal obligation on you to report a crime. Civilly the issue is with the employer. Even if they weren’t aware he was carrying it the employer may be liable if he uses it on somebody. There might be a disciplinary issue for you though. If he uses it and your employer found out that you knew and didn’t report it they may discipline you and possibly even dismiss you for not reporting it to them.
Q9. My employer wants me to find cover for my site so I can take holidays. He said he has nobody to cover so I have to find a person so I can take time off. Is this allowed?
No it isn’t. Your employer is a cowboy and wants you to do their job for them. You are entitled to holidays and once you request them long enough in advance your employer needs a really good reason to turn it down. You have to get them at some stage in the year though.. Your employer is responsible for staffing the contract not you. Their inability to do so is a company problem. My advice is twofold. Firstly if your employer continues to refuse your holidays then make a report to WRC. Secondly I advise you to start looking for a new employer.
That’s all for this session . As always if you have any questions or issues then feel free to get in touch on the social media pages or via email .