Monday, 21 March 2011 18:14

Security Guards: The Development and State of Occupational Safety in Germany

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Growing security needs as a result of generally rising criminal activity, the opening of the borders to the East and within the European Union, as well as the accession of the former German Democratic Republic, have led to a disproportionate growth in the number of commercial guard and security companies as well as the number of employees of these companies in Germany.

At the start of 1995 the number of employees in the more than 1,200 guard and security companies stood at over 155,000. The mid-sized companies have mostly 20 to 200 employees. There are also companies, however, with fewer than 10 employees and others with several thousand. Company mergers are increasingly common.

The Administration Trade Organization is responsible for legal accident insurance for these companies and their employees.

Accident Prevention Regulations

Background of the accident prevention regulations and their scope of application

With the rising occurrence of accidents, the “Guard and Security Services” (VBG 68) Accident Prevention Regulation that had been in force since May 1964 in guard and security work became outdated. It has therefore been reworked and completely redrafted, with the participation of representatives of the affected employers, employees, accident insurance companies, manufacturers’ and trade organizations as well as representatives of the Federal Minister of Labour and Social Questions, the state industrial oversight authorities, the Federal Minister of Defence, the Federal Crime Office, the state police authorities, other institutions and a specialized committee. This committee is an organ of the central office of the Safety and Health Trade Organization of the industrial trade organizations, under the responsibility of the Administration Trade Organization.

The newly drafted accident regulation went into effect 1 October 1990, after several years of consultations. The regulation is the legal standard for all employers and employees in guard and security companies. It lays out duties and lines of authority upon which newly drafted governmental ordinances specific to each specialty are based.

Guard and security work to protect persons and valuables includes:

  • private guard duty, such as gate-keepers and park watchmen
  • security at construction sites and rail yards
  • guarding private property, including factory guards
  • guarding military installations and atomic power plants
  • ranger and patrol duty on various properties
  • security service for performances, trade fairs and expositions
  • crowd control
  • courier service
  • investigative services
  • money and valuables transport
  • personal protection
  • staffing alarm centres
  • responding to alarms.


General responsibilities of the employer

The employer or his or her agent may employ only persons who are currently qualified and adequately instructed for the desired guard and security activity. These qualifications are set out in writing.

The conduct of the personnel, including notification of deficiencies and particular dangers, must be regulated with detailed service instructions.

If particular dangers result from guard and security work, adequate supervision of the personnel must be ensured.

Guard and security tasks should be taken on only when avoidable dangers in the working area have been eliminated or secured. To this end, the scope and course of the security, including known side activities, must be set out in writing.

The employer or his or her agent, independent of the client’s duties, must ensure that the property to be secured has been inspected for dangers. Records of these inspections must be kept. These inspections must take place on a regular basis and also immediately when the occasion warrants.

The employer or his or her agent must require of the client that avoidable dangers be eliminated or dangerous locations be secured. Until these security measures are implemented, regulations should be formulated that guarantee the safety of the guard and security personnel in another manner. Inadequately secured danger zones should be excluded from surveillance.

The guard and security personnel must be instructed on the property to be secured and its specific dangers during the time period when the guard and safety activity will take place.

The guard and security personnel must be supplied with all necessary facilities, equipment and resources, especially appropriate footwear, effective flashlights in darkness, as well as personal protective gear in good condition, as needed. The personnel must be adequately instructed in the use of such resources. Equipment and other resources that are worn must not unduly restrict freedom of movement, especially of the hands.

General duties of the employee

Employees must abide by all occupational safety measures and follow the service instructions. They should not accede to any directives from the client that contravene the safety instructions.

Deficiencies and dangers that are discovered, as well as corrective measures taken, must be reported to the employer or his or her agent.

The employees must use the equipment and resources provided appropriately. They may not use or enter installations if not authorized.

Employees must not use alcoholic beverages or other intoxicants while on duty. This also applies for an appropriate time period before work: the employee must start work sober.

Employees who must wear glasses to correct their vision during guard or security work must secure these against loss or bring a replacement pair. This also applies to contact lenses.

Use of dogs

In general, only dogs tested and approved by appropriately certified and competent dog handlers are to be used for guard and security work. Untested dogs should be used only for warning tasks when they are clearly under the control of their handler, but not for additional security tasks. Dogs that have vicious tendencies or that are no longer sufficiently competent must not be used.

Excessive demands should not be put on the dogs. Adequate education and training based on the results of research on animal behaviour must be provided. Proper limits for period of service, minimum rest times and total daily service times need to be set.

The competence of the dog handler must be regularly certified. If the handler is no longer adequately qualified, authorization to handle dogs should be withdrawn.

Regulations must be formulated to guarantee smooth and safe handling of dogs, contact with the dog, the taking over and turning over of the dog, leashing and unleashing, a uniform set of commands used by different handlers, the handling of the leash and conduct when third persons are encountered.

Minimal requirements are prescribed for dog kennels concerning condition and equipping as well as setting access authorization.

When transporting dogs, a separation between transport area and passenger area must be maintained. Car trunks are not suitable under any circumstances. Separate facilities for each dog must be provided.

Use of firearms

Employees must use firearms only on express instructions of the employer or his or her agent, in accordance with all legal requirements and only when the employee is appropriately reliable, suited and trained.

Those carrying firearms must regularly participate in target practice at authorized firing ranges and prove their skill and knowledge. Corresponding records must be kept. If an employee no longer fulfils the requirements, firearms must be withdrawn.

Only officially tested and approved firearms are to be used. The firearms should be tested by experts periodically, and also whenever an inadequacy is suspected; they must be repaired by trained and officially approved persons.

Guards and security personnel must not have or use blank- or gas-firing weapons. In confrontations with armed perpetrators, these weapons provide a false sense of security that leads to extreme danger without adequate possibility of self-defence.

Strict regulations guarantee the flawless and safe use, carrying, transfer, loading and unloading, and storage of firearms and ammunition.

Transporting money and valuables

Due to the high risk of robbery, at least two couriers must be employed for transporting money in publicly accessible areas. One of these must be exclusively occupied with security. This applies also to the couriers’ movements between money transport vehicles and the locations where the money is picked up or delivered.

Exceptions are permitted only if: (1) the money transport is not recognizable by outsiders as a transport of money either from the clothing or equipment of the personnel, or from the vehicle used, the route taken or the course of the transport; (2) the incentive for robbery is significantly reduced by technical equipment that must be clearly recognizable by outsiders; or (3) only coin is being transported, and this is clearly recognizable by outsiders from the conduct and course of the transport.

Technical equipment that considerably reduces the incentive for robbery includes, for example, devices that either constantly or during the entire transport are firmly attached to the money transport container and that, in the case of a forced conveyance or snatching during delivery, automatically either immediately or after a timed delay set off an optical alarm by means of a release of coloured smoke. Additional devices such as simultaneous acoustic alarms are advisable.

The design, form, size and weight of money transport containers must be adequately manageable for carrying. They must not be attached to the courier, as this poses an increased risk.

Money transport with vehicles should in general be carried out only in vehicles specially secured for this purpose. These vehicles are adequately secured when their construction and equipment meet the requirements of Accident Prevention Regulation “Vehicles” (VBG 12) and especially the “Safety Rules for Money Transport Vehicles” (ZH1/209).

Money transport in unsecured vehicles is permissible only when exclusively coin, clearly recognizable as such, is being transported, or it is completely unrecognizable as a transport of money. In this case neither the clothing nor equipment of the personnel, nor the construction, equipping or markings of the vehicle used should indicate that money is being transported.

Transport times and routes as well as loading and unloading locations needs to be varied. Money transport vehicles must also be constantly occupied by at least one person behind barred doors during loading and unloading in public areas.

Alarm centres and vaults

Alarm centres and vaults must be adequately secured against assault. The minimal requirements are the Accident Prevention Regulation “Tellers’ windows” (VBG 120), which governs securing and equipping credit and money-changing institutions that deal with cash.

Final Considerations

There are practical limits in all attempts to improve occupational safety. This is especially clear in guard and security work. Whereas in other areas, structural measures and improvements lead to success, these play only a secondary role in guard and security work. Significant improvements in this area ultimately can be achieved only by changing the company organizational structure and human conduct. The newly drafted Accident Prevention Regulation “Guard and Security Services” (VBG 68), which may seem exaggerated and too detailed on superficial viewing, nevertheless takes this basic knowledge into very particular consideration.

Thus it is not surprising that since regulations have taken effect, the reportable accidents and occupational diseases in commercial guard and security companies have declined by about 20%, despite the generally increasing crime rate. Some companies which have especially conscientiously implemented the Accident Prevention Regulation, and additionally have voluntarily applied supplementary security measures based on a criteria catalogue that is available, were able to register decreases in occurrences of accidents and occupational diseases of up to 50%. This was especially true in the use of dogs.

Furthermore, the totality of the measures taken led to a reduction in the mandatory premiums for legal accident insurance for commercial guard and security companies, despite rising costs.

Overall it is clear that secure conduct can be achieved in the long run only with precise norms and organizational regulations, as well as through constant training and checking.



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