For security guards, every shift can bring a number of risks – some minor, some fatal. Security personnel are hired in various capacities across the UK: patrolling shopping centres; keeping business estates secure; guarding gated communities; providing close protection to VIPs; and monitoring public & private events. Each assignment can bring its own threats, from knife-wielding shoplifters to armed thieves.
To ensure you can protect your clients to the very best of your abilities, you need protection too. Body armour can defend against multiple weapons, such as knives, needles, and guns. However, there is no one-size-fits-all vest to protect against all risks – there are armours to defend against most weapons. SafeGuard Clothing take a look at each, and see how they can help keep you safe.
Bullet proof vests are one of the most common types of protective clothing. These are typically worn by police officers patrolling volatile areas, military personnel in the field, and journalists reporting from war-zones, but security guards will also often wear them in certain situations. Bullet proof vests flatten bullets on impact, and spread their impact, stopping them from penetrating through to flesh and bone.
You might find these are essential when guarding sites or VIPs at higher risk of intrusion or attack. For example, shopping centres housing high-value jewellery stores, banks, and certain industrial sites may attract armed criminals, and as security personnel, you’ll be expected to place yourself on the front line of defence.
The Home Office Scientific Development Branch (HOSDB) and the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) typically work together to put vests through stringent tests. Once they discover the level of protection each offers, they then categorize it into one of three levels: II; IIIa; and IV.
Level II vests are designed to protect against common handgun rounds, from 9mm to a range of .357 Magnum. Level IIIa vests defend against 9mm sub-machine gun rounds, up to the .44 Magnum range. Both of these usually feature Kevlar, one of the most popular and reliable protective materials.
Level IV vests are designed differently – they feature panels on the front and back, to accommodate protective plates (usually steel, ceramics, or titanium). These defend against high-velocity gunfire, including armour-piercing and rifle rounds, but each plate must be replaced after use.
Edged Blade Vests
Stab proof vests are designed to protect against various blades, from daggers to machetes. As with ballistics vests, these are categorised by levels: II and III. Stab vests feature multiple layers and a tight weave, which create friction against the blade and stop it before it can cause damage. Level III vests feature additional layers to protect against more ferocious attacks.
Security guards working in shopping centres, at certain public events, and as door staff are more likely to wear stab vests: shoplifters and drunken troublemakers are more likely to carry blades, and may feel the need to attack if they believe they’re being pushed into a corner.
You may also feel the need to wear a spiked weapon vest for one of these assignments, if you feel improvised weapons may be used. Aggressive individuals planning to attack might grab any sharp item they can find, such as a syringe or a sharp-heeled shoe. Like a stab proof vest, a spiked weapon vest features multiple layers and an even tighter weave designed to stop a pointed tip passing through.
You will have to choose between wearing a stab vest or a spiked weapon vest – one cannot do the job of both. You should assess which type of weapon is more likely to be used, based on previous experience and the venue’s history.
Should you go Covert or Overt?
Vests are available in three styles: covert; overt; and covert / overt. Different situations call for different levels of visibility: if you’re hired to patrol an event, a shopping centre, or a business site, it’s likely your clients will want you to maintain a high-profile presence to deter any potential troublemakers and help people feel safe; in some assignments, you may need to stay low-key in plain clothes, which calls for a more discrete armour.
Covert vests are worn under clothing, and offer invisible protection. These are thinner than standard vests, and generally feature moisture-wicking fabrics to help you stay cool during extended wear. These are ideal when working as door staff or providing close protection to a VIP.
These are worn over clothing, and are commonly worn by police and military personnel. These can be as thick as needed, as discretion is unnecessary.
Covert / Overt
Covert / overt vests provide a high level of versatility, and can be worn over or under clothing. To accommodate for such diverse wear, these are thinner than standard overt vests, and thicker than standard covert vests, with no compromise on protection. If you need to change from your uniform into civvies for a particular job, then these vests can prove vital.
Sizing, Fit, and Function
Finding the best size for your shape is essential to get the most out of your armour. As protective vests are designed to defend your vital organs, you need to make sure they fit your torso perfectly: if a vest is too big or too small, you may find yourself still vulnerable to danger.
Your vest should hang no lower than your navel area: if it hangs any lower, then it’s too big; if it feels too tight against your chest, it’s too small. Before ordering a vest, you should measure your height and chest, and check your measurements against your supplier’s size chart. When wearing a vest for the first time, be sure to explore your freedom of movement – if you feel too restricted to run, crawl, or defend yourself, then your life could be in danger should you find yourself in a violent situation.
You should also make sure you never immerse a vest in water – instead, clean it using a sponge and warm, soapy water. Also, never wear a vest bearing signs of damage, as this can negate the protective fibres and leave you vulnerable. If ever in doubt, seek expert advice. Security work is a serious occupation, and you should take your own safety as seriously as you do that of your clients.
For more information visit: http://www.safeguardarmour.co.uk/