Looking After NHS Staff – Lone Working Risk Assessment
Authoritative bodies have increasingly recognised that the risk of injury to NHS staff from members of the public has substantially increased in recent years. A Freedom of Information request showed that assaults on NHS workers had risen by 10% in 2018. It’s believed that over 200 staff are verbally or physically attacked every day.
Lone working NHS staff in particular are more vulnerable to violence from members of the public. Therefore, their safety and well-being should be of the utmost priority. Thorough risk assessments should be conducted in consultation with employees as well as Health and Safety professionals.
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?
Answer: Anyone who works by themselves for a period of time. This can include, but not limited to;
Community based staff workers – doctors, nurses, dietitians, 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
Any lone working risk assessment will need to take into account the job role (type of work), the environment they’re working in, who is involved, such as patients (for example do they have a record of violence), and any specific factors to the employee (for example training and competences).
Essentially, the aim is to ensure that all risks from lone working are identified and control measures are implemented in order to minimise any perceived threats.
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?
Inform staff – 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.
We have plenty more advice regarding lone working risk assessments. Why not check it out here and here?