Security workers are spending up to $1300 on stab-proof vests to protect themselves against violent attacks in increasingly high-risk jobs, say suppliers of the hi-tech garments.
A rising number of security guards, door staff, animal control officers and noise patrol officers are wearing the vests to reduce the risk of life-threatening injuries on the job.
Some were even dipping into their own pockets to buy the vests, according to suppliers and union representatives.
New Plymouth company CERT Systems supplies a range of stab-resistant and ballistic vests.
Director Brad Dannefaerd said demand for stab-resistant vests was up 15 per cent to 20 per cent in the past year, mostly from security staff.
"There is no question in my mind that they are working in a higher-risk environment today than they did, say, five or 10 years ago. They're realising the potential risk is pretty significant and a lot of staff are feeling perhaps a little vulnerable."
New Zealand body armour company Armasure started selling stab-proof vests about six months ago after an influx of inquiries.
Service and Food Workers Union senior organiser Len Richards said trying to get more staff equipped with stab-proof vests had been an ongoing issue.
The union's collective agreement included a health and safety clause allowing staff access to suitable clothing. "They could ask for them, it doesn't mean they would get them, but at least we could make the case."
Security guard night patrols should certainly be wearing stab-proof vests because they had to work in extremely high-risk environments, he said.
"If they turn up when an alarm has gone off goodness knows what they're going to walk into."
Hutt Valley senior dog control officer Vicki Harwood said she had been wearing a stab-proof vest daily for the past 12 months.
Her employer, Hutt City Council, supplied all its animal control officers with the vests after some serious incidents in other regions.
‘Even the most basic job can escalate very quickly."
Officers were expected to wear vests for all operational work, she said. They also wore a belt holding a baton, panic button and radio.
First Security's Mike Rutherford said the number of stab-proof vests it made available to staff had risen in recent years. Technology had also improved, which meant vests were more effective at minimising injury. Fairfax NZ
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