When security officers fall asleep on the job, many people believe laziness is behind this. The truth is that many officers are overworked. Security officers follow protocols similar to military personnel in that, if they are not relieved of duty, they cannot leave. If they do, they may lose their job for “desertion of post.”
If there is a schedule mix-up and someone fails to show, this could have an officer remaining on duty for several more hours. Sleeping irregular hours and working 12-to-16-hour shifts to cover for high turnover rates can cause security officers to be overworked.
Even the Secret Service is guilty
Few people consider security work a glamorous job. However, Secret Service work does come with some prestige. According to CNN, even these guards are not immune from overwork and falling asleep at their posts.
When one SS guard faced disciplinary action for falling asleep on the job, he explained that he had worked a 36-hour shift, which included a trip to Kenya. Another officer who was also accused of falling asleep was working 13-day stretches of 12-hour shifts.
What scientists have to say about it
One Science Direct article explains that disrupting circadian rhythms and extreme workload requirements can cause anyone to fall asleep on the job. These result in the following effects that are especially terrifying when applied to security work:
- Reduced vigilance and attentiveness
- Reduced ability to make good decisions
- Failure to respond to environmental changes
- Decreased ability to react quickly when necessary
- The inability to remember key details
Are there officers who sleep on the job on purpose? Absolutely. Do legitimately tired and overworked officers mean you are not entitled to a claim? Absolutely not. The people who manage security contractors have a responsibility to ensure their workers are ready to work, relieved on time and get adequate rest. Always hold them accountable when they fail to provide this and adverse incidents occur.