LAST EDIT March 20, 2023
Question: Is It Safe to Be a Security Guard
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How safe is the security industry? Is it more dangerous than other occupations or even police work?
We can get some answers from data published by the United States Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Here's some good news: Their special security guard safety report entitled, "On Guard Against Workplace Hazards" states that nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses, requiring time away from work, occurred at roughly the same rate for security guards as for all other occupations.
In 2020 government officials estimated that security officers had incurred 6,700 of these injuries.
Keep in mind that this is out of one million working security guards as estimated by the department's data collection.
At the macro scale, while on post, your chances of suffering an injury that requires time away from work seems to be just over one-half of one percent.
It's not all good news. The report also has a finding on the number of fatalities while on the job.
It states: "The rate of fatal workplace injuries to security guards was more than twice that of workers in general. Security guard fatal injuries were often the result of assaults."
Approximately 60 - 80 security guards suffer fatal injuries each year while on the job.
It's important to note that in recent years the security officer fatality rate appears to have remained stable and hasn't as of yet experienced the massive spike that's taking place in law enforcement.
According to National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund data that number increased to a record 472 law enforcement officers. When considering that there are 665,000 police officers in the U.S., we can see that police work is getting much, much more dangerous; but as of yet, security work doesn't appear to be.
Why are security officer fatalities double the national rate for all workers while injuries on-the-job are the same as those in the other occupations?
I believe this can be most attributed to the types of post assignments given to officers.
According to the report the perpetrator involved in fatal assaults to security guards was typically a customer, client, or individual intent on robbing an establishment. During a span of six years 93 percent of security guard homicides were committed by someone in these groups. Safety incidents among security guards frequently occurred in the evening and overnight.
However, notably, the Bureau's security guard fact sheet states that just 38% of security officers work in an environment that requires interaction with crowds.
This indicates that many security posts are soft posts where the officer isn't required to interact with the public and isn't likely to suffer assault. In fact, these posts are so easy-going that they are likely safer than many other occupations.
While there are many of these easy, very safe assignments, a smaller number of posts sport a significantly increased risk profile. Examples include many of the armed sites and patrol routes where the officer frequently interacts with the public in sketchy environments; bar assignments; and restaurants and convenience stores in the high-crime neighborhoods many of which become especially dangerous in the mid-to-late overnight hours.
Once you understand these facts, even if you are risk averse, then you should have a pretty strong comfort level going into security. It's a tight labor market; a fact that doesn't seem to be changing anytime soon—for a variety of factors. Your security employer, desperate to fill shifts, will likely assign you according to your expressed preferences regarding your desired risk profile of choice.
Let's assume that you have been assigned to a post with a high-risk profile or perhaps something has gone wrong at your low-risk post and it has suddenly become interesting.
How can you put the odds into your favor?
First and foremost: be prepared. Plan and envision for every possible incident and how you will respond.
Stay informed about what is happening on other security sites. For example, follow OfficerHQ on Twitter to keep up with incidents of note.. This allows you to envision how you will react when a similar incident takes place at your post.
Then, prepare and train! Become skilled at tactical communications. This is the art of defusing a potential situation through communicating. There's an entire course on this and it's available to members of The Security Officer Network.
The true security professional will keep his ego checked and will not allow it to make him become emotionally involved in a situation; a big mistake that dramatically increases risk of assault.
Like so much else in life, effective security work is about allowing your experiences and knowledge to guide your use of strategic empathy—the technique of getting into the mind of your counterparty and working out a solution that prevents a situation from developing in the first place.
Master this skill and you will increase your odds of avoiding injury or worse.
So, to answer the question, is it safe to be a security officer? The answer is, most likely, yes, yes for now; if you use good judgment and know what you are getting into.
Here is one more thing for you to consider: If security becomes forced to fill more of the public safety rolls due to the retreat of policing, we should expect that security injury numbers are likely to rise.
Take a look at this story from Seattle.
As you can see, there's going to be tremendous and growing demand for security. This will continue to place security officers into potentially challenging situations but it is also a great opportunity for future security professionals to find clients and make good money in this industry. If this is you, consider getting your copy of How to Start a Security Agency and joining us on The Security Officer Network, the home of the true security professional.
How Much Does it Cost to Start a Security Guard Company - The initial investment that should be set aside before start a private security agency. Click to Read
What are the Components of the Security Guard Company Business Plan - The necessary elements of the Security Guard Company's business plan. Click to Read
How to Lower the Cost of the Securty Guard Company's Insurance Premiums - Methods for cutting the cost of insurance and undercutting the price model of the big security companies. Click to Read
How Much Should a Company Charge for Security Patrol? - Methods for charging for patrol route services. Click to Read
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