Security guards to bar office workers if they’re ‘a little too warm’

Security guards are being redeployed to keep the peace in supermarkets and temperature-check office staff coming in to work.

The security industry, which employs about 148,000 licensed personnel nationally, is bracing for a severe loss of business after the federal government banned gatherings of more than 500 people for the first time in a century.

But Grant Talbot, director of Security Guards Melbourne, said businesses had been requesting guards do other services amid the coronavirus pandemic, including checking people's temperature at the front door.

If you’re ‘a little too warm’ you’re not coming in. Credit:Andrew De La Rue

"One of our major clients is an international chemical company we supply with 24-hour security [and] we are now scanning other employees coming in. And if they are a little bit warm they don’t come to work."

He said his company, which employs about 60 people, has had to buy the temperature testing devices and train employees to use them.

"It’s really the first check and condition of entry, like doing a bag search or checking your ID to come into the venue. Now you are checking temperature and ID."

An industry source at one of the country's largest security providers said some personnel were also being trained to test the temperature of people going into aged care facilities and some hospitals.

Bryan Goudsblom, the chief executive of Melbourne security company Monjon, which employees about 400 people, said security will become an "essential service" as it supports police with frontline services.

"We have been requested to do temperature checks, we are carrying that out at one large aged care facility. We trained our staff to undertake these tests as the crisis evolved," he said.

He said they were also seeing more demand from schools, construction sites, aged care and retail services for 24-hour security during closures.

They also have requests for additional guards from supermarkets.

Bryan Decaires, from the Australian Security Industry Association Limited, said it made sense for security companies to add temperature checks to their services, but stressed the employees needed to be appropriately trained.

He said the industry was now grappling with the loss of a significant chunk of business given the cancellation of some of the nation's biggest events.

"Some of this stuff is uncharted," he said. "It’s really trying to work out where [staff] can be deployed meaningfully."

Local travellers checked for temperature at an airport in Jakarta on Monday. Credit:Amilia Rosa

"Some [firms] might want to go into cleaning, there will be a spike in people wanting buildings cleaned.

"As things become more intense, [supermarkets] may look to get subcontractors in to help them. It may be getting more heated up in some areas, as people get more anxious, more panicky," he said.

A Coles spokeswoman said the supermarket giant had reviewed all security measures in place across their network and employed extra security guards where required.

A Woolworths spokesman declined to answer questions about security arrangements.

Private security may also be needed if the government decides to lock down certain suburbs or areas, said Mr Decaires, or at hospitals or GP clinics as more and more people get tested.

Updated health advice for Australians

The symptoms of coronavirus include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath; and
  • Breathing difficulties

If you suspect you or a family member has coronavirus you should call (not visit) your GP or ring the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

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