Good Practice Guidelines: Working alone and managing fatigue

New Zealand Security Magazine - August-September 2020

Good Practice Guidelines
New NZSA guidelines draw attention to Health and Safety issues.

Launched in June, the NZSA’s New Zealand Security Industry Good Practice Guidelines provides clear guidance on health and safety and compliance, including working alone and managing fatigue.

The Coroner’s investigation into the death of Security Officer Charanpreet Singh Dhaliwal on 18 November 2011 identified a number of issues around licensing and training and also highlighted the need for an industry-wide set of guidelines around good practice. This was the impetus behind the NZSA’s New Zealand Security Industry Good Practice Guidelines.

Dhaliwal’s first night on the job was to be his last. Guarding a west Auckland construction site as an employee of CNE Security, he was inexperienced and alone. 

Upon confronting a group of drunk young men who had broken into the site, he was mortally struck on the head by a timber wielding offender.

Dhaliwal’s only communications device was a mobile phone that was given to him before his shift, and an 0800 number to call in case of emergency. According to Coroner Peter Ryan, “if there had been a system of half-hourly welfare checks in place at that time, then it is likely medical assistance would have been sent much sooner.”

Ryan recommended that a code of practice look at issues such as the need for a formal risk assessment of work sites, the introduction of radio telephones for lone night guards and regular welfare checks for staff.

The New Zealand Security Industry Good Practice Guidelines provides guidance to the industry on these issues and more. Its 92 pages (excluding appendices) covers myriad topics from leadership and accountability to risk management, site safety, recruitment, licencing and training.

Working alone and at night clearly presents elevated risk in the security guarding context. This excerpt from the Guidelines focuses on security officers working alone and managing fatigue:

Working alone

Your security company should not deploy a property or mobile security patrol guard to work on their own until they have:

  • successfully completed NZQA Unit Standards 27360, 27361 and 27364
  • obtained their full certificate of approval from the PSPLA.

Your security company must share its working alone policy with the guard(s) in a timely manner. It must also ensure that the guard(s) understand training on and use of the policy and consult with them on anything that affects their health and safety.

Remote and isolated work

Remote and isolated work involves situations where guards are exposed to risks because the nature or location of their work means they cannot readily summon help if injury, illness, violence or another emergency occurs while they are at work.

Note: The Health and Safety at Work (General Risk and Workplace Management) Regulations 2016specifically require a PCBU to:

  • manage risk with remote or isolated workers and provide a system of work that includes effective communication with these workers
  • identify hazards in relation to the isolated workers and apply, review and maintain an effective hierarchy of control measures to manage this risk.

Your security company must share its remote and isolated work policy with the guard(s) in a timely manner. It must also ensure that the guard(s) understand training on and use of the policy and consult with them on anything that affects their health and safety.

Communication in remote or isolated locations

Safe work practices should ensure regular contact and welfare checks occur between the employer/supervisor and the guard at the remote or isolated location.

The communication system used with an isolated or remote location must be reliable, timely and effective.

In many remote or isolated locations, the telecommunications network is non-existent, poor or unreliable. For this reason, a mobile phone is not considered an acceptable or reliable form of communication in these situations.

Your security company should conduct a risk assessment to identify the best method of communication in each unique situation.

Your security company must share its remote communication policy with the guard(s) in a timely manner. It must also ensure that the guard(s) understand training on and use of the policy and consult with them on anything that affects their health and safety.

Managing fitness for work

Factors that reduce staff fitness for work include fatigue and the effects of alcohol and other drugs. The mental or physical exertion involved produces a state of impairment that leads to reduced performance, impaired decision making, lack of motivation, tiredness and poor concentration.

Work practices such as long hours often make these effects worse. 

Fatigue

To work safely, workers should be physically and mentally alert. For this reason, fatigue is a potential risk. PCBUs and workers have a responsibility to manage fatigue at work.

The following are some factors that contribute to fatigue:

  • Work schedules: hours of work, night work and shift work (including breaks between shifts): Long work hours, irregular work hours, and schedules that require night work can cause fatigue. All of these kinds of schedules limit the time for a person to physically and mentally recover from work. Working at night interrupts the natural sleeping rhythm, which can cause fatigue.
  • Sleep disruption: Everyone needs a particular amount of sleep to stay alert and perform well. People generally need between 7.5 and 9 hours of sleep a night. The most beneficial sleep is deep and undisturbed over a single continuous period. When sleep each day is disrupted in terms of its length and quality, fatigue may result.
  • Environmental conditions: Climate extremes (such as working outside in winter), noise and handling vibrating tools place demands on workers and increase fatigue.
  • Physical and mental work demands: Physically demanding work and mental demands, such as tasks that require periods of intense concentration, can increase fatigue.
  • Emotional well-being: Work events, such as experiencing regular criticism or the pressure to complete a task to a deadline, can be emotionally tiring and increase fatigue. Non-work events can also cause distress and lead to fatigue – for example, when a person faces the loss of a loved one or tries to resolve personal conflicts.

For guidance, see WorkSafe’s Fatigue Quick Guide (July 2017), at https://worksafe.govt.nz/topic-and- industry/work-related-health/fatigue/

Your security company must share its fatigue policy with the guard(s) in a timely manner. It must also ensure that the guard(s) understand training on and use of the policy and consult with them on anything that affects their health and safety.

Responsibilities in managing fitness for work

Your security company should have in place policies and procedures for avoiding, identifying and dealing with the ‘fitness for work’ of property and mobile security patrol guards. These policies and procedures should include training in fatigue management and random and incident-based alcohol and drug testing in the workplace.

Your security company must share its fitness for work policy with the guard(s) in a timely manner. It must also ensure that the guard(s) understand training on and use of the policy and consult with them on anything that affects their health and safety.

General conditions

Security companies should provide all property security guards and mobile security patrols with access to:

  • facilities for dining and changing clothes
  • access to toilets and washing facilities
  • access to supplies of drinking water
  • first aid rooms that are clean and safe to use
  • safe and healthy accommodation where overnight stays are required
  • access to a first aid kit that is regularly stocked.

Your security company must share its requirements for general conditions with the guard(s) in a timely manner. It must also ensure the guard(s) understand these requirements and consult with them on anything that affects their health and safety.

Seating

Your security company should provide facilities for seating where it is reasonable for workers to perform work while seated and the customer and employer have agreed that seating does not compromise service levels or the ability to provide necessary services.

Where it is not reasonable for workers to perform work while seated, then your security company should provide seating facilities where the worker can rest during breaks.

Your security company must share its seating policy with the guard(s) in a timely manner. It must also ensure that the guard(s) understand training on and use of the policy and consult with them on anything that affects their health and safety.

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