Are you afraid of being sued over security?
Some contract security companies, and their clients, need this post. The main question is do you, and them, know the 3 prevalent ways that your security program, and the provider, can be sued over your security program. Most people don’t and that could be a serious issue for both of you.
Unfortunately not knowing, or paying attention to, can lead to financial ruin for both the provider and your company. So, it is in the best interest of both to look at these and then decide whether or not you can wiggle out of these. There are literally hundreds of terms that attorneys will use in their filings, but it basically comes down to three main areas;
- Inadequate Security/Staffing
Somewhere in the paperwork that is filed against you, there will be a case for not having enough security or staffing on the premises when an incident occurred. This could mean a multitude of issues have happened, or not. That no one was observing (or sleeping) the video monitors, abandoned the front door for the restroom or, that the company didn’t pay enough for a good pad lock on the gate.
And it doesn’t always have to be security people that get the brunt of the legal assault. In the nursing field an example is a nurse leaves the door propped open to the ICU to allow easier access for the ER people to bring up a patient. That means that they will be responsible and could be sued along with the hospital for having inadequate security.
And what about if you’re short an officer, or an employee, to cover the back door while building materials are being brought in and out? This is all in addition to not having adequate locks, lighting, policies, procedures, & etc.
As for other staffing issues, you have to avoid, at all costs, the all too common WBS when filling a post, whether it is a call off or a no show. WBS is one of the riskiest ways for you to fill an opening, and too many, far too many, security companies fall into this trap, usually to avoid violating, and consequently losing, the contract.
Now you may be asking what WBS is. In the contract security industry if you run short of people, for innumerable reasons, you may plug someone into a place they’ve never worked at before, causing Warm Body Syndrome. And if that post requires a minimum amount of training, then you’ve committed WBS because the ‘guard’ they’ve posted there has no clue and no training on that post.
- Inadequate training
Your security officers and site/shift supervisors were not properly trained for the duties that they were assigned to the post to complete. If you work in the contract industry this is one the biggest issues that you have, training your officers adequately, effectively, and completely.
On the other hand if your supervisors or managers aren’t properly trained, they don’t know what to do, efficiently, either. That’s as bad as WBS if a person who should know doesn’t know what to do in certain situations on a particular post.
A prime example of this is in the nursing field. A nurse who is supposed to know how to handle am arterial bleed, or other ICU issue or procedure, and doesn’t. Is that inadequate training and could get her and the facility sued?
- Negligent hiring
Again, whether you are in the contract security field or not, if you hire the wrong person it could cost you. A survey that I saw several years ago stated that even for front line employees with minimal training, it could cost the company as much as $20,000 to replace them. Remember, it’s not just the hiring but add in the recruiting, training, time consumption in the process, and other such things.
If you hire a convicted felon, even if they did so by false pretenses, and they assault someone on the job, you could lose several shirts. And even if you manage to stay in business, your insurance will go up. This literally means that your clients, and others, will be demanding that your background checks have overwhelming proof they were completed and were thorough. And that means additional time and/or financial resources need to be expended.
As for other hiring issues, what if you were to hire a person who has a history of mental illness but hides it well, and many can hide it, until it rises up and explodes. And there are a multitude of issues that can cause a negligent hiring suit. Therefore, with diligent thought and action, reference checks are a good thing for everyone concerned.
In this litigious society we live in, and especially the supposedly deep pockets of business, you have to ensure that you cross your T’s and dot your I’s on everything. Otherwise, someone will spill hot coffee on themselves and sue you for serving them hot coffee.
Attorneys will have innumerable phrases and words to file (and obfuscate) file against you. But they mostly come down to the 3 areas listed above. So you have to ensure that everything is operating the way it should with no shortcuts that may threaten the business. Shortcuts are fine, as long as they don’t come back to bite you.
So, the question comes up again here at the end. Are you afraid of being sued over your security program or provider? I can say only one thing. Unless you’ve done everything possible and gone beyond it, then as Yoda said “You should be”.
Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on security issues, specifically workplace violence. He’s spent 32 years in the security field. Contact him at 480-251-5197 or Visit his Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/oneistoomany
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