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Although lone workers often work out in the community, there are many who interact with service users or members of the public in their place of work without colleagues nearby.

It is imperative that consideration is given to measures that will eliminate or reduce personal safety risks when designing the workplace and systems of work.

Good practice and policies include:-

  • To ensure that hedges and shrubs are cut back, especially around entrances and exits
  • Provide good lighting in public areas and walkways
  • Consideration of physical barriers, however, barriers can increase aggression and hinder interaction
  • The layout of receptions should not place staff in isolated position. There should be a clear route of escape available
  • Consider the use of CCTV, panic alarms and communication systems
  • Panic alarms should be tested weekly, response procedures should be established and practice alarm drills held at least every 6 months.

The environment can influence an individual’s behaviour. Colours of walls and furniture can affect mood and perception. Choose pastel colours for a calming effect.

The temperature should be controlled to maintain a comfortable environment. Careful positioning of furniture is essential, rooms should be checked at least daily for any items that could be used as potential weapons.   Access to the building should be controlled and monitored.

Systems of work should be reviewed to ensure that they do not increase the potential for the risk of violence e.g. keeping waiting times to a minimum.  Reception staff should be trained in customer care and de-escalation techniques.  Staff should be instructed in safe interviewing practices.

Your policy on violence and aggression should be displayed in reception areas.  Some Children’s and Adults staff may have contact with service users in a variety of settings within the community.

Where a lone worker is working at another employer’s workplace, that employer should inform the lone worker of any risks and the control measures that should be taken.

In these settings, it is as important to establish likely risks and control measures, as it would be if you were seeing the person in their own home. In an unfamiliar setting, staff should familiarise themselves with the security features such as panic alarms, exit routes.  Should there be concerns about their safety, consideration should also be given to asking another staff member to sit in or having the interview somewhere that is observed by other staff, or by delaying the interview.

For any interview members of staff should ensure another staff member, knows where they are, with whom and what time the interview should conclude.  An interview should not take place unless there are other members of staff around. When interviewing in places like hospital sites staff should familiarise themselves with the local arrangements for dealing with emergencies.

Whilst it is normal to wish to give service users the right to speak to us alone, consideration must be given to personal safety within custody areas. You should request police presence if the person’s behaviour indicates this to be necessary.