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Illustration by Security Management

Security Officers at Higher Risk of Death from COVID-19, Statistics Find

Male security guards working in the United Kingdom are at significant risk of dying from COVID-19, according to the U.K. Office for National Statistics (ONS).

“Men working as security guards had one of the highest rates, with 45.7 deaths per 100,000,” the ONS said on Monday. “Compared with the rate among people of the same sex and age in England and Wales, men working in the lowest skilled occupations had the highest rate of death involving COVID-19, with 21.4 deaths per 100,000 males.”

ONS figures from 5 May adjusted the coronavirus-related death toll in the United Kingdom to 32,313—signaling the serious possibility that the United Kingdom could end the pandemic as the worst-hit country in Europe, Al Jazeera reports.

Among the 2,494 deaths registered in England and Wales involving the coronavirus affecting working age people (between the ages of 20 and 64) up until 20 April, nearly two-thirds were men. Elementary workers—including construction workers and cleaners—was the major group with the highest rate of COVID-19 related death, at 21.4 per 100,000 males. Male taxi drivers and chauffeurs were also at high risk, followed by chefs, bus drivers, and social care workers.

The statistics come on the heels of U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement of new plans to lift coronavirus lockdown restrictions. Starting this week, those who cannot work remotely will be actively encouraged to return to work, but workers were urged to avoid taking public transportation and to wear face masks when in confined spaces.

A new document from the U.K. government outlines the country’s recovery strategy.

Security officers have been particularly vulnerable in the COVID-19 pandemic, especially as they begin to take on additional roles and responsibilities that often put them further into harm’s way. In Flint, Michigan, a security officer was killed in an altercation while trying to enforce a face mask order. Security officers have been called to take temperatures of facility visitors and workers to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, which puts them in close proximity to people potentially infected with the virus, according to a Security Management report.

In addition, not all security personnel have been outfitted with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). Beyond the effects on the health and safety of personnel, this can also be a liability for employers. For more, check out this Q&A with Eddie Sorrells, CPP, PCI, PSP, chief operating officer and general counsel at DSI Security Services.