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The Importance of Situational Awareness and Safety in Security Operations

By Iris Fernandez


There are many factors that play an important role in the work of your security guards, but for effectively maintaining the security of client facilities and protecting the well-being of the guards themselves, there is no skill more important than situational awareness. Safety and security all hinge on a guard’s ability to recognize potential hazards, understand when a situation is escalating, and knowing how to respond appropriately.

Situational awareness safety is especially crucial when a guard encounters an intruder at a client’s facility. However, it can also play a key role when dealing with environmental hazards or other problems.

Good situational awareness allows guards to respond quickly and appropriately so they can prevent loss to client facilities. The following examples highlight just a few of the key elements of situational awareness, as well as how it can improve results in these situations.


Focusing on Surroundings

Situational Awareness and Safety in Security Operations detailsOne of the primary attributes of situational awareness is developing the ability to identify anything that seems out of place. Some might even refer to this as teaching security guards to be diligent in their duties so that even the tiniest details aren’t missed.

Security guards should learn to focus on even seemingly minor details — a faint dripping or whistling sound, a leak, an item that has been moved from its normal place, even an unusual smell. These are the types of things a security guard needs to investigate.

True, not every noise or shadow in a guard’s peripheral vision is the result of a security issue, but the last thing any security company needs is for a break-in to occur or for an emergency maintenance issue to be overlooked because the guard didn’t notice or investigate the signs.

Ultimately, guards should investigate even the smallest indicator that something might be wrong. That strange sound might be nothing more than a raccoon rummaging around in the trash cans outside the building, but it could just as easily be a trespasser trying to gain access to the facility. Using situational awareness to investigate these signs can help stop a problem before it gets out of hand.


Preventing Escalation

Situational Awareness and Safety in Security OperationsAnother key element of improving situational awareness is teaching your guards how to respond appropriately to prevent escalation. Whether they encounter a warehouse fire or come face to face with a burglar, understanding the steps they need to take to resolve the situation and keep themselves safe in the process is an absolute must.

Naturally, not every situation requires that a guard calls for backup. A key part of situational awareness is understanding which situations can be resolved without outside assistance, and which problems necessitate emergency responders or communication with a client.

All guards should receive training on what to do for the various security situations they might encounter, but the trickiest of these certainly involves dealing with an aggressive intruder. Among the tactics that guards should understand are the importance of maintaining the correct posture and staying a safe distance away from an intruder, verbally communicating in a calm and direct manner, and watching for physical signs that an encounter is escalating into a potentially dangerous situation.

By understanding what needs to be done to prevent an incident from getting out of hand, your security guards will be in a better position to protect the interests of your clients as well as their own personal safety.



In addition to providing training to help your security guards improve their situational awareness, one of the best things security management can do is create a culture that emphasizes and values this vital trait. By rewarding guards for their vigilant work and motivating all your employees to follow through on key safety practices, you’ll be able to deliver better results for your clients and keep your guards safe.

See for yourself how TrackTik’s Guard Tour module can help you improve your security operations today!


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