We often talk about how lackadaisical most security companies are when it comes to hiring guards. But that being said, there are a few grey areas involving certain medical conditions that can make saying “no” a bit difficult. That being said, simply having diabetes cannot disqualify you from becoming a security guard! However, not all security positions (their actual duties, not their “level” in the company) might not be suitable. But each person and situation is unique, so ultimately, it comes down to the security firm making a wise decision.
Before we dive in, we are going to call out the elephant in the room (or rather, in the article). This is an extremely sensitive topic in current times. So, let us be clear. There is a major difference between discriminating against an individual by not allowing them to take a position simply due to “not liking something about them” versus not hiring an individual for a specific role who could, based on medical conditions, actually cause harm to others. Here at BPS Security, discrimination is not tolerated, AND it is also our duty to make tough decisions in order to keep our clients, employees, and civilians safe!
There was an incident a while back (with a different security firm) involving a diabetic security guard hired to protect a mall.
Early one morning, the security guard was driving around the mall’s parking lot. Unfortunately, while driving, he fell into a diabetic coma and crashed the vehicle. Fortunately, no one got hurt! But the vehicle was totaled.
To better understand the severity of diabetic coma, here is some information provided by Medical News Today.
“Diabetic shock occurs when blood sugar levels drop dangerously low. Diabetic shock is not a medical term, but people often use it to describe a state of severe hypoglycemia that requires another person’s help. People with mild low blood sugar, which doctors call insulin reaction or hypoglycemia, are usually conscious and can treat themselves…. When a person experiences diabetic shock, or severe hypoglycemia, they may lose consciousness, have trouble speaking, and experience double vision. Early treatment is essential because blood sugar levels that stay low for too long can lead to seizures or diabetic coma.”
In an additional article published by Medical News Today, they go onto explain,
“A diabetic coma can affect a person with diabetes when they have high or low levels of blood sugar or other substances in the body. With prompt treatment, a rapid recovery is possible. However, without early treatment, it can be fatal or result in brain damage.”
So, was this incident preventable? Likely, yes!
Who Was at Fault?
In our opinion, the security firm was at fault. Why? Because the security guard should have been given a medical exam prior to getting the job. Based on the results of the medical exam, this individual should have been given a different position within the security firm that does not require driving a vehicle.
Many firms are desperate to hire a security guard to fill a night position making $8/hour and will take the first person who agrees to the position without completing due diligence to ensure the individual is medically cleared to handle the role.
Diabetes cannot disqualify you from becoming a security guard! In fact, it is illegal for a company to discriminate simply based on an individual having diabetes. The following information is taken directly from the Diabetes Council in regards to having diabetes and working in law enforcement.
(Now, obviously, security guards are not law enforcement, but they often have to perform similar duties that require the ability to rationally think, and perform.)
“The American Diabetes Association helped in crafting the National Consensus Guidelines for the Medical Evaluation of Law Enforcement Officers for those with diabetes and who choose to work in law enforcement. It recognizes that refusing to let someone with diabetes work in law enforcement is discriminatory, and it provides a means to identify those persons with diabetes so they can work safely in law enforcement.”
Ultimately, if an individual with diabetes wants to work in law enforcement, they are required to undergo medical evaluation. And according to the Diabetic Council, this is what the evaluation will uncover.
“The medical evaluation includes looking at any chronic complications that might affect job performance or safety, including visual, neurological, kidney and cardiac complications.
The acute complications of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia are also taken into account, and whether or not the person is taking insulin or other medications that may lower blood sugar. The evaluation looks at the risk for developing severe hyperglycemia and DKA (Diabetic Ketoacidosis).
The physician will look at how many episodes of severe hypoglycemia is the patient having per year, and if they have absence of the symptom called hypoglycemia unawareness. If the person with diabetes seeking to work in law enforcement has at least one severe hypoglycemic event in the last year requiring help from another person and has hypoglycemic unawareness, they are considered to be at a very high risk of another event over a span of 3 years.
Further down in the article, the Diabetic Council describes how to reduce the risk of law enforcement with diabetes.
The only officers that are considered not to be at significant risk for hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia are those officers who are Type 2, diet controlled, A1C less than 7and who are taking a biguanide medication such as metformin, an alpha-glucosidase inhibitor such as Precose or Glyset, or a thiazolidinedione such as Actos or Avandia. Law enforcement officers should be carrying glucose tablets on their person at all times and not leave them behind in the patrol vehicle.
Frequent testing of blood sugar is required in most units, and usually depends on the type of medications that the officer is taking or injecting, and their relative risk for severe blood sugar events. Officers may be required to have a special glucometer that is downloadable, for which the numbers should not be tampered with.
For law enforcement officers taking insulin who operate a vehicle, the threshold for driving is 100 mg/dl. An officer should consume carbohydrates if his blood sugar is below 125 mg/dl prior to driving. This is in line with current recommendations for long distance truck drivers.
Again, diabetes cannot disqualify you from becoming a security guard! However, there may be different roles within a security firm that may be more suitable or placements that do not carry the same activity requirements and risks.
This is yet another reason why here at BPS Security we have extremely strict hiring policies. If we feel that there is an extraordinary individual who could make an amazing employee but is not physically/medically able to perform the role of a security officer, then we will place them in a different position. We also pay our security guards a living wage so that we get to choose from a pool of better guards.
Again, our primary duty is to keep our clients, employees, and civilians/property safe. That being said, we have to determine which individuals should and should not be placed into specific roles.