Councils and Local Authorities employ a wide range of lone workers who deal with the public on behalf of their employer on a daily basis.
By the very nature of their work, some are exposed to increased risks of violence or abuse.
In a survey carried out by the Health and Safety Executive, they asked those working alone in the public domain as to what the common key risks that they encountered.
The most common key risks were:
Alcohol and drug use, by clients and members of the public with whom the lone worker comes into contact. Alcohol and drug use can make people aggressive and their behaviour unpredictable.
Geographical locations. Certain areas of towns or cities, e.g. town centres or council estates, were known to have a higher risk of violence.
Late evening/early morning work. Working during these times carried an increased risk of violence because there were generally either fewer people around, a greater number of ‘unsavoury characters’, or people under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Nature of the job. In some jobs lone workers hold positions of power or authority over customers or clients which can cause resentment and cause people to be more aggressive.
Clients or customer behaviour. For a number of reasons, clients or customers can be highly emotional, unpredictable or aggressive.
Other people or situations encountered whilst doing job. These include members of the public, youths and animals.
Travelling, visiting homes and carrying money or equipment were also identified as key risks.
The consequences of facing these threats of abuse or physical violence were wide ranging and affected both the lone worker and their employers.
Consequences and impacts:
Stress, anxiety, fear and depression. Also resulting from having to deal with persistent verbal abuse.
Stress-related health problems. Often leading to long-term sick leave.
Psychological problems. For example, employees may sometimes feel partly to blame for violent incidents, or feel they have failed in some way.
Low morale and loss of confidence. This can affect an employees’ ability to do some or all of their job.
Physical harm and injury. Leading to sick leave.
Staff retention and recruitment problems. For example, hearing about violent incidents may make the job less attractive to potential recruits; and experienced staff may leave a job if they no longer feel safe or able to cope.
Sick leave. This can result from stress-related health problems or a physical injury following a violent incident.
Low productivity. High levels of sick leave; staff refusal to do certain jobs, high insurance premiums and compensation claims; and breakdown in client-professional relationship – can all have a detrimental impact on an organisation’s productivity and profitability.
Impact on the self-employed. Self-employed people could ultimately lose their livelihood and be faced with limited work choices.
Duty of Care
Organisations also have a ‘Duty of Care’ to uphold towards their staff – wherever they work.
Failure to put effective measures in place to help prevent, or at least give access to immediate assistance often lead to heavy financial penalties. In the most extreme cases, it can also lead to custodial sentences.
How Can Guardian24 Help?
Guardian24 is the UK and Ireland’s leading lone worker protection supplier. We work with hundreds of Local Authorities and Housing Associations across the land to provide 24 hour backup and support.
Our service is fully accredited to lone working industry standards and we’re rigorously tested to ensure our high levels are maintained.
The use of personal alarms and mobile applications allows the user to raise the alarm at the touch of a button. Having a method of discretely calling for help in an emergency is proven to be popular and help staff feel more confident about their safety.
Via the use of our personal alarms and mobile phone solutions, we offer the ultimate choice in cost effective lone worker protection.
What’s more, with Guardian24, you can trial our alarms, apps and service for 30 days free. Simply click here to get started.