Authoritative bodies have increasingly recognised that the risk of injury to NHS staff from members of the public has substantially increased in recent years.

Lone working NHS staff in particular are more vulnerable to violence from members of the public and therefore need to be taken into consideration with proper risk assessment.

Legislation

The management of health and safety at work regulations, 1999, requires that work activities are risk assessed.

The risk assessment needs to consider options to eliminate or control a hazard in order to decrease the degree of risk to as low as is reasonably practicable.

Who is a Lone Worker in the NHS?

Community based staff workers – doctors, nurses, dieticians, assistants, chaplains, midwifery, and emergency care practitioners

Security and maintenance staff

Small departments located off main corridors and buildings e.g. Medical Photography

Reception staff manning desks out of hours for late clinics or over the weekend

Staff working outside standard working hours on stand-by or on call such as Radiology, Pathology, Theatres, Junior Doctors, Pharmacy, Chaplains

Things to Remember when Doing a Lone Worker Risk Assessment

Identify and analyse the risk – remember remote areas such as labs and workshops and particularly those who work in the community and out of hours.

Determine the level of risk by considering if there are appropriate lone worker policies, procedures, good practice standards and guidelines in place. Are they used by staff and up to date? Are they the most efficient option?

After recording the risk assessment and preparing an action plan, staff must be informed of the risks and the action. Training is crucial for the successful implementation of a lone worker solution.

Review your risk assessment every year. As staff distribution changes across an organisation so do the policies and procedures needed to ensure their safety.

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