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With greater media and public awareness of post-traumatic stress, the condition has increasingly engaged the attention of employers in the security sector

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awareness and security

rivate security guard Danny Fitzsimons is now serving a 20-year sentence for the murder of two col- leagues. His narrow escape from the Iraqi gallows is a stark warning to everyone who works in the security industry - post-traumatic stress is potentially a killer. Less severe but more common cases of trauma may produce depression and behavioural prob- lems for staff in the workplace. Left untreated, the result can be extended sick-leave and dismissal, and a legal lia- bility for the employer, according to Piers Bishop, director of therapy at charity PTSD Resolution. With greater media and public awareness of post-trau- matic stress, the condition has increasingly engaged the attention of employers in the security sector in particular, because of the ‘on the job’ risks to staff and as a poten- tial legacy issue for the many veterans and reservists of the armed forces employed in the industry – some 5,000,000 people in the general population. No-one knows how many people are hurting or killing themselves or others as a result of mental trauma, but there are clues: two private security guards committed suicide in one week in May this year; more Falklands vet- erans are now thought to have killed themselves since the war than died in operations; and the US Veterans’ Administration suicide prevention helpline is now receiv- ing over 400 calls a day from ex-service people who are desperate to have something done about the chaos in their heads. Employers need to be aware of the issues for staff

exposed to violent events or scenes, either in the past or possibly during their current employment. Practical man- agement guidelines for employees should include the fol- lowing advice, says Piers Bishop:- 1) There is a chance that you will be affected by the

things you see and do. This is normal, and will fade in many cases. If it does not fade in a month or so, or if it is getting worse, it is a good idea to get help. 2) You are not going mad and this is not a sign of

weakness. It is a normal reaction to events and can hap- pen to anyone, even the most robust and apparently sta- ble individuals. Everyone has a threshold beyond which they can be traumatised. 3) It’s ok to talk about it, but it won’t necessarily help.

Treatment is what you need. The sooner you get on with it, the sooner you’ll be able to get back to normal life. 4) Your doctor probably won’t be a trauma specialist.

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In fact you will probably know a great deal more about post-traumatic symptoms than your GP. The NHS guide- lines do not recommend medication for post-traumatic symptoms, but many GPs still offer antidepressants to new trauma cases. Insist on a referral to a trauma clinic. 5) There is a strong chance that with appropriate treat- ment you will experience a good recovery.

Busting health and safety myths T

he British Safety Council wholeheartedly supports Chris Grayling’s efforts to highlight the needless application of health and safety laws to ban or restrict day-to-day activities. Alex Botha, the chief executive of the British Safety Council, pointed out that the “reality is that bans are often based on ignorance or cost and the law is misrepresented and used as an excuse to avoid criticism.” “We need to think in terms of sensible safety and dispel the harmful myths that have grown up and which trivialise a serious issue through the banning of perfectly reasonable and low risk activities,” says Alex. “We should be able to enjoy ourselves at work or at play without being tied up in red tape and unacceptable bureaucracy; and without sweeping away regulations that are there to make our schools and our workplaces as safe as necessary. “A start would be for us all to understand risk better and that it is neither possible nor desirable to eliminate it from our lives. This approach underpins the work of the British Safety Council in helping thousands of schoolchildren a year gain a free health and safety qualification and our Speak Up, Stay Safe campaign aimed at empowering young people to identify workplace hazards and inform supervisors of any concerns. “Stories about bizarre bans only muddy the very serious message we are trying to get across. Our work with members and the wider business community demonstrates that good health and safety really is good business and it’s this positive message the British Safety Council will press to help bust these myths once and for all.”

Protection at the source C

ompanies are putting their future business at risk by not protecting their source code from hackers.

Recent hacks, including hacktivist group Anonymous’ attack on US Government contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, have highlighted the increasing threat to more than just personal data as the group deleted 4Gb of source code from the Booz Allen Hamilton server. Source code is a series of instructions, written in a

programming language, that tells a computer how to function. Deletion of source code, whether malicious or accidental, may result in a company being unable to work specific programmes that it relies upon to do business. Pete Stock, managing director, NCC Group Escrow, comments: “While it’s unlikely (and pretty remiss) that a company only holds one copy of its valuable source code, it could be the case that if it’s main copy disappears or is lost, that the owner would be unable to maintain the application. At best, it might only impact the source code owner itself; at worst it may license and maintain that application to 1,000s of other companies who would find themselves without support. The big issue with losing the main copy of the source code is that secondary copies may not be the most up-to-date version or may even be missing vital instructions. This could make the secondary copies useless to developers.” Pics: Dreamstime

September 2011

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