Training Lone Workers
Sometimes means making sure that they carefully decide whether a visit should go ahead and how many people should go. Sometimes, client history means no visit.
In a rough-cut from a recent course where we were Training Lone Workers, our Director of Training and expert on personal safety Gerard O’Dea describes the tragic case where a lone worker was asked to visit someone whose recent history and past convictions, if known, would have suggested that probably no-one would have been sent on the visit that she was asked to carry out. The story highlights the importance of knowing client details, including their history of violence.
Gerard O’Dea is a professional violence-management trainer/consultant who has been active in Training Lone Workers since 2006. He regularly delivers training to local authority, housing organisation and other community-based staff teams who work with sometimes difficult, distressed or dangerous members of the public. His approach to lone-worker training is pragmatic, functional and based on a keen analysis of the issues in the real world of community working. Gerard published “Lone Worker Personal Safety: A Guidebook for Health and Social Care Staff” (on Amazon in Paperback and on Kindle) in 2014 as a result of an intense period of years Training Lone Workers. For more information please visit: https://www.dynamis.training/lone-worker-personal-safety/
How must employers control the risks?
Employers have a duty to assess risks to lone workers and take steps to avoid or control risks where necessary. This must include:
- involving workers when considering potential risks and measures to control them;
- taking steps to ensure risks are removed where possible, or putting in place control measures, eg carefully selecting work equipment to ensure the worker is able to perform the required tasks in safety;
- instruction, training and supervision;
- reviewing risk assessments periodically or when there has been a significant change in working practice.This may include:
- being aware that some tasks may be too difficult or dangerous to be carried out by an unaccompanied worker;
- where a lone worker is working at another employer’s workplace, informing that other employer of the risks and the required control measures;
- when a risk assessment shows it is not possible for the work to be conducted safely by a lone worker, addressing that risk by making arrangements to provide help or back-up.Risk assessment should help employers decide on the right level of supervision. There are some high-risk activities where at least one other person may need to be present. Examples include:
- working in a confined space, where a supervisor may need to be present, along with someone dedicated to the rescue role;
- working at or near exposed live electricity conductors;
- working in the health and social care sector dealing with unpredictable client behaviour and situations.Employers who have five or more employees must record the significant findings of all risk assessments.
Employers also need to be aware of any specific law that prohibits lone working applying in their industry. Examples include supervision in diving operations, vehicles carrying explosives and fumigation work.
Further information about controlling risks can be found on the HSE website at: www.hse.gov.uk/toolbox/.