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On the job hazards facing security officers

Security guards are the first responders, the ones at the scene of an incident before the police, fire department or ambulance. At the Twin Towers on Sept. 11, 2001, thirty-three security guards died in the line of duty. Sept. 11 was an atypical day at work, but it emphasizes the dangers of the job.

Security guards are often viewed as a deterrent, observing the situation and reporting behavior, unarmed. This can put them in harm's way when dealing with a criminal element. Although more police officers are injured on the job each year than security guards, security guards are more likely to suffer a fatal injury at work.

Two-thirds of security guard fatalities come by assault while other injuries are caused by sources as varied as auto accidents, slips and falls, and overexertion. Data shows that working overnight is the most dangerous time period and weekends are more dangerous than weekdays.

What types of injuries do security officers face?

Security guards face threats from three primary factors: as a physically active job, officers are exposed to the elements; as a public facing job, officers work directly with other people; and, like any other job, officers are subject to environmental conditions and mistakes on the worksite.

This includes:

  • Assault from trespassers, burglars or unruly customers
  • Exposure to smoke or chemicals
  • Vehicular accidents, either driving or being struck by fleeing suspects
  • Overexertion
  • Sprains and pulled muscles
  • Heatstroke, sunburn and dehydration
  • Falls and workplace accidents
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder

Additional statistics on security guard injuries

The Bureau of Labor Statistics issued a detailed report that emphasizes the occupational risks of the job. Some key takeaways include the following:

  • There are roughly 70 fatal injuries on the job each year.
  • There are 8,920 non-fatal injuries on the job each year.
  • Police officers are most likely to be injured, but security guards face a higher fatality rate when injured.
  • Based on 2007 figures, 51 percent of on the job fatalities were from homicides, compared to 11 percent in the overall workplace, spanning all lines of work.

While many picture the flashing lights of an emergency service vehicle, the truth is that security guards are often the first on the scene, which exposes them to dangerous conditions that can scar physically and mentally.

Security officers face a number of dangers on the job and most injuries are not these severe examples, rather twisted ankles in a pursuit, to a slip and fall or being hit by a falling object while making rounds. It's an employer's role to minimize dangerous conditions and to make sure that, if an injury does occur, the employee receives proper recovery and reimbursement. A workers' compensation attorney can guide an injured worker through the claims process to ensure that you're collecting all the available benefits from putting your body in harm's way for the job.

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