Winter brings more than just new seasonal events for security guards: It also means many weather-related changes for patrolling outside, as well as changes in how people behave around the holidays. Has it been a while since your security firm thought about winter-ready equipment and upgrades? Here’s what to think about providing for your guards when the temperatures drop, to keep them safe – and avoid any potential injury or health-related liability.
Offer Winter-Ready Protective Clothing
Winter brings low temperatures and wind chill for all guards outside, which means they should be ready. Firms should look into supplying equipment and uniforms that will help guards stay warm on night patrols in the colder seasons. Companies can also advise their guards on when to bring thick socks and gloves based on temperature forecasts for their upcoming shifts. For snowy conditions, consider offering additional snow-ready boots. Sometimes, just a pack of handwarmers in the supply room can make a big difference! Balance winter wear with looking professional and make sure that security logos/authentication can always be seen.
Allow for Extra Time During Security Sweeps and Patrols
Winter rain, snow, and early darkness all mean that outdoor activity will take longer. If your guards are on strictly timed sweeps or have similar instructions with time gates during their jobs, consider giving them extra time during the winter. Or simply send out a message letting them know that it’s all right if some tasks take longer in winter conditions, and that they can start early or take more time as needed.
Provide Guards with Extra Break Opportunities to Get Warm
In particularly cold or wet conditions, it may be difficult to stay warm outside even with extra clothing. When the weather is bad, let guards know that it’s all right to take some break opportunities indoors to warm up, especially when they can still watch over key access points. Let clients know that this is your plan for bad weather so you can find an arrangement that works for both of you.
Keep Guards Aware of Additional Hazards on the Job
Send out a broad warning if winter causes certain problems in your area, just so that your guards stay informed. That could be something like an increased chance of blackouts, or when the temperature drops, sidewalks could start getting icy. You may also want to create a policy for how to deal with things like snow blockages or serious ice buildup that clients need to know about and address for everyone’s safety.
Be Careful of Clients Asking Guards for Additional Duties
During winter, some clients may ask security guards on their property to perform certain extra duties. They may be asked to shovel snow, lay down ice melt materials, knock snow off trees, and so on. This is tricky territory, and it’s usually best to lay down a firm line that guards will only be responsible for the duties laid out in their contract. Otherwise, awkward liability issues could emerge if there’s an accident.
That being said, common sense plays a role, too. If your guards frequently work in icy conditions, giving them a bag of ice melt to keep in the truck, just in case, can help keep everyone safe. But clients should not expect guards to do tasks like this as part of their job.
Add a Space Heater to Your Equipment List
Some guards work in fairly isolated areas, like outdoor kiosks or toll booths. If your guards have jobs like this, consider getting a company space heater for them to use while on duty. That can provide some much-needed warmth in cold conditions. Make sure the heater you pick has plenty of safety features and emergency turn-off options to cut down on the fire hazard.
Have a Plan for Winter Emergencies
We mentioned winter blackouts above: What should guards do if a store, club, or apartment has a blackout? Will they be ready to guide people to exits and help ensure there’s no chaos or rioting? Security firms should help guards be prepared for situations like this – and that means more than just giving them a flashlight. Set up action plans to help out, too.
Plans can also help guards prepare for events like frozen pipes that burst and start flooding a building, or a wind advisory. Think about what disruptive winter events happen in your area and provide guards with a few pointers on how to respond if they happen on duty.
When your company is willing to take extra steps to ensure the safety and comfort of your guards, you’ll reap the benefit in job satisfaction and performance. Plus, watching out for your guards like this helps avoid any liability issues in case or accidents or incidents that occur in cold weather. If lots of cold weather gear isn’t really in your budget right now, supply what you can, and provide your employees with guides on what they can bring along on their patrols to help make winter work easier.