NYC security guard wearing a surgical mask standing in a hallway

What Every NYC Security Guard Needs to Know About COVID-19

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The coronavirus pandemic has upended normal life throughout much of America. Forced business shutdowns, mandatory stay-at-home orders, and rising economic fears have quickly become many Americans’ new normal. For security professionals, however, the need to protect life and property is as important as ever before. However, that mission can also be even more challenging in this type of dangerous environment. If you are an NYC security guard, the best way to perform that mission while also helping to defeat the pandemic is to know as much as you can about Covid-19 protocols.

Security is Essential, Especially Now

In times like these, security is vitally important. Criminals and other bad actors can still pose a direct threat to people and property, and law enforcement cannot always be there to deter illicit activities. As an NYC security guard, you will still be expected to fulfill that vital deterrent role, while also interacting with the public. To do that effectively, you will need to be aware of current recommendations for dealing with the virus threat.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) is a respiratory disease that can be transmitted from person to person through close-contact droplets from sneezing, coughing, and even talking. Data suggests that the virus can be transmitted by both symptomatic and asymptomatic carriers, which means that you could become infected by someone who appears to be completely healthy. As a result, it is vital to follow all relevant guidelines for protecting yourself and those around you.

Proper Safety Protocols for Security Officers

By now, you are surely aware of the government’s basic guidelines for minimizing the risk of exposure to this coronavirus. They include social distancing techniques like staying at least six feet away from other people, avoiding hand contact with your face, and washing your hands thoroughly. In addition, experts recommend applying hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content when handwashing is not an option.

To properly protect yourself and those with whom you come into contact, though, you will need to adopt even stricter protocols while on the job. For example:

Learn to Recognize Covid-19 Symptoms

As a security guard, it will be important for you to recognize the symptoms of Covid-19. According to experts, those symptoms can include everything from a dry cough and difficulty with breathing to a fever. Obviously, if you encounter anyone with those symptoms, you will probably be required to deny them access to your job site. Unfortunately, however, those signs and symptoms may not be present, depending upon when the person contracted the virus.

The science suggests that signs and symptoms for Covid-19 typically do not appear for at least 2 days. To further complicate matters, they can remain hidden for as long as two weeks. That means that it is possible to encounter people who appear to be completely healthy, but who are actually carrying the disease and virus. Worse, some people who may carry and transmit the virus never have any symptoms and never get sick. Your job site should have policies in place to reduce the risk of exposure from those asymptomatic individuals too.

Use all Provided Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)

As a security guard, it will be impossible for you to protect others if you cannot protect yourself. Personal protection equipment is vital in that effort. If you are familiar with PPE, then you know that it includes all of the gear used by medical professionals, scientists, and others who need to limit exposure to pathogens and illnesses. You will want to ensure that you are provided with quality equipment like a particle respirator mask, protective eye coverings, and disposable gloves. You may also need additional clothing, single-use gowns or vests, and other coverings.

While it might be tempting to wear only some of the gear provided, you should commit to wearing everything you are given. Each piece of PPE is worn for a reason, and you can only receive the maximum level of protection when you use it all. Remember, the life you save could be your own.

Personal Protection Equipment

Implement the Right Access Control Protocols

While most people will be at home during the pandemic, you will undoubtedly still have to interact with members of the public. As you do, observe proper social distancing, and follow all protocols for examining credentials, conducting security searches, or engaging in any other communication. If anyone appears to have symptoms of Covid-19, follow your response guidelines. That may include contacting designated authorities or health personnel. If your job site requires that visitors be subjected to temperature checks or other health measures, follow those protocols to the letter to ensure everyone’s safety.

Be Aware of Any Possible Exposure and Respond Accordingly

Depending on who you come into contact with, it is always possible that you or your clothing and gear may be exposed to the virus or an individual suspected of carrying it. If that happens, it will be important to quickly disinfect your gear, following all standard protocols. Some of your PPE will need to be discarded, to avoid any possible spread of the virus. Obviously, your employer and job site should have provided you with relevant emergency contact information so that you can notify the right authorities about the incident.

It is also critical that you document any possible exposure, as well as the procedures you followed in response to that incident. It is also possible that you may need to be tested for Covid-19 exposure. If that is required, your employers will have procedures in place to ensure that testing is accomplished in a timely manner.

Finally, it is absolutely essential to recognize that security personnel and others who follow these types of protocols are generally considered to be at a low level of risk. That should provide at least some measure of peace of mind as you continue to perform your vital role in protecting life and property across New York City. With the right mindset and careful adherence to recommended guidelines, you can continue to help keep the city safe even during a serious virus outbreak like the currency Covid-19 pandemic.

George Kozhar

George Kozhar

George Kozhar is a respected security professional, licensed private investigator, and founder of International Security Services (ISS) - New York City’s dedicated security experts since 1999. Mr. Kozhar and his team provide a full array of private and business investigative services in the U.S. and overseas, VIP executive protection, armed and unarmed security guard services and training, and Fire and Life Safety Director training through the company’s Fire Science Institute.

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