Security operative questions answered: March 2018

Tony Security Leave a Comment

I said last week that I had gotten a number of question that I felt was best answered in a public forum. These are the questions I have received both before and since I made that announcement. Everything from safety boots to guard dogs and a few more in between. As always I advise you not just to take my answers at face value. I give you my answers based on my experience and research and you should do the same. Take my answers and use them as the basis to research your own. As always I’m open to your feedback and to any ideas you may have on any of these subjects.

Question 1

I’ve heard from other people in the security industry including my supervisor  that it’s illegal to wear still toe capped boots to work as they are classified as a weapon. Is this true? 
The short answer is NO. It is not true. It’s a myth that has grown in this industry for years. There is no piece of statute law that I can find which states that this is the case. There is also nothing in the Offensive Weapons Act 1990 .
If the shoe is worn as required PPE whether issued as part of a uniform or not then it is not a weapon. However it can become a weapon if I use it in an unlawful way to kick a person. The wearing of the shoe is not illegal, but the use of a shoe to commit a crime may make it illegal and have it interpreted as a weapon.
To keep it simple. If you are wearing a safety shoe as PPE or for the purpose of keeping your foot safe from injury then it is not a weapon and is not illegal.

Question 2

Where do you stand on the practice of nightclubs filming people in their first aid area being treated? Is this legal?
I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s illegal but there are a lot of issues with the practice. I’m assuming from your message that you are talking about body worn camera footage or camcorder footage (both of which I’ve seen used) and not just a static CCTV camera. I’m sure the venue will argue it’s for two reasons.
Firstly to gather evidence of treatment and the casualties answers in advance of a potential civil claim.
Secondly as a safety measure in case the casualty becomes violent towards staff.
In both cases (and this is just my opinion) the data protection commissioner would view these recordings as excessive and a breach of privacy. I say this because it would involve the recording and long term storage  of many people’s  audio and visual data on the remote chance of a claim.
I would also assume that if the DPC were to give a decision such as this then the venue wouldn’t be able to use the footage in a civil case anyway.
So to answer your questions it’s not good practice and is quite likely a privacy breach. Again that’s just my opinion on it.

Question 3

I’m looking to move up to supervisor and one of my bosses told me it’s a good idea to have a LinkedIn account. Is it something that people in security use or is it more for business people?
Absolutely you should have a LinkedIn account. Everybody in the security industry should. I’ve gotten some of my best connections through the site. It’s a professional networking site so it’s a bit more formal as regards the type of information but it’s a great resource. If you view yourself as a security professional and not just a security person then definitely set yourself up with an account. Look me up on it here as well and add me as a connection. Happy to help with anything I can.

Question 4

I work in a small late bar with 3 security staff. From time to time we have to check the women’s toilets or deal with drunk people in there. Is it legal for me to go in there? Sometimes we have to deal with people passed out in there and I’m worried that someone might say something some day.
Firstly I absolutely understand your concern. It’s a huge worry for many people in the industry. The easy solution is to hire a female security team member if you are consistently dealing with issues. This protects everybody involved. I’m saying this though being unaware of your budget or other resources and this may not be available to you.
To answer your question there is no legal statute preventing you from entering the bathroom. There is only the obvious privacy issue. In this regard it becomes about the lesser of two harms. First a person’s safety is in question (ie a fight or a person passed out) them that will take precedent over privacy. It now becomes about protecting yourself. Some general best practice.
  1. Get a female bar staff member or manager to accompany you and enter first
  2. Give a loud verbal announcement before you enter and wait some time afterwards before entering
  3. Ensure you have the witness stay with you throughout.
  4. Try to use presence and verbal commands to communicate. Only move to physical touch if absolutely necessary. Usually only if there is an imminent safety risk.
  5. Keep your witness informed of what and why you are doing things.
  6. Take the situation out of the bathroom ASAP.

Question 5

I let my licence elapse and now the PSA are making me do the training again. My employer spotted this and sent me home without warning. She won’t give me any shifts until the training is done and I have my new licence. I’m out of work without pay. Is this legal as  I have a 25 hour employment contract.
Yes of course it is. You let your licence lapse and it would now be a criminal offence by your employer to allow you to work. That supersedes your contract of employment. By not being legally allowed to work you have effectively breached your contract. Why should they be expected to pay you? You are quite lucky to have a job to come back if I’m honest. Many employers would replace you quite quickly on a permanent basis here.

Question 6

 Is it illegal to keep a guard dog on site with a security guard. If they bite somebody can the security guard be charged?
No it is not illegal to keep a guard dog on a site but there are regulations around this issue. The use of guard dogs are regulated by The Control of Dogs Act 1986/1992 and more more specifically the Control of Dogs 1986 (Guard Dogs Amendment) 1989.
Basically you can have a guard dog on site provided it’s accompanied by a handler or restricted to a certain area. Unfortunately there are no legal requirements for either handler or dog in this country.
A handler generally won’t be held criminally responsible for the actions of the dog unless they act maliciously or recklessly in getting the dog to do harm. They are however civilly liable for injuries caused to trespassers if those injuries are found to be caused by negligence  under the meaning of the duty of care set out in the Occupiers Liability Act 1995.

Question 7

What action should we take if we feel we are not being provided with a safe working environment and would such action impact on us keeping our jobs?
The minimum requirement for an employer is to provide a reasonably safe work environment. However what the employer calls reasonable safe and what the staff deem reasonable can be two different things.  There is legislation in place to allow an employee to refuse to work in an unsafe environment and prevent that person being penalised. However this should always be the last resort for an employee and there are a number of alternatives to be explored first. The legislation is only ever meant to be for use where danger is eminent and obvious.
The first thing to do if you feel your workplace is unsafe is to report it to your employer. This should be done in writing and should outline the reasons why you feel the workplace is unsafe. If you have any ideas as to how to improve the situation these should also be outlined. Its not a blame game here its about making you safer. Should that not work then you should begin documenting incidents and near misses (very important also) related to the workplace and passing them to your employer. If at any point there is penalisation then the legislative route is open.
If nothing else works and you continue to be placed in an unsafe environment then we get to the legislative part. I call this the best hidden piece of H&S law out there. Section 27 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005. This allows an employee to refuse to return to work in an unsafe workplace. Of course simply refusing is’t the answer, It has to be combined either with consultation with the employer or a report to the Health and Safety Authority. The Act also prohibits an employer from penalising the worker by financial, hours or any other means. To do so would entitle the employee to compensation. Once the HSA review the matter they will decide the outcome.
This legislation isn’t often used but I have advised employees to use it more than once and where it has been used it is highly effective. As I said above however it is an absolute last resort when consultation and engagement haven’t worked.

Summary

These are the questions I have been asked over the past 2-3 weeks. There have been a good few others which I have replied to either publicly or privately due to the nature of the question.  The website and social media have been really busy lately so I apologise if I have missed anything in there. Please feel free to continue to ask and I will continue to answer where I can. Its through working together that we can all make the industry better.

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