Many lone workers have experienced assault, and work related violence can happen in any industry. Employers have a duty of care to ensure lone worker safety.
A lone worker’s safety should be a high priority for an organisation and each business must ensure they have a clear lone worker safety policy and guidelines for their staff to follow.
Who is a Lone Worker?
A lone worker is anyone who works in isolation or is located in a work environment by themselves. This can include people who are visiting people’s homes, home carers, social workers, doctors, or even pathologists.
If an accident or emergency situation were to occur, lone workers can be isolated from help and assistance.
Both employees and employers should be proactive and take all reasonable and practicable measures to ensure lone worker health and safety are taken. Below are some of the ways these measures can be implemented:
Lone Worker Safety & Health Tools
One of the ways a lone worker can protect themselves before a home visit is by conducting a Risk Assessment Evaluation. By conducting this evaluation in every new environment ensures that staff working in home/community settings are safe and potential risks are mitigated as much as possible prior to meeting any new clientele.
For the safety of all lone workers it is incredibly crucial that all new clients be carefully screened prior to commencement with a home/community based service to determine risks to both the staff and or the client.
If the lone worker is a healthcare professional reviewing the clients’ medical record prior to the first face to face meeting will ensure that any potential risk factors are explored thoroughly during this screening process.
The Risk Assessment review should also include, but not be limited to:
- Reviewing the ‘high risks accommodations’ list
- Understanding any known history of aggression or criminal history
- Understanding of any substance abuse
- Understanding of any known emotional or psychological concerns
- Being aware of any identified hoarding /squalor issues
When visiting a client in their home or community a lone worker may need to contact the client to confirm arrangements prior to leaving for the visit, this would also mitigate potential risks or concerns.
It is also important that staff members make every effort to be on time for scheduled visits and notify the client where possible if they become aware that they will be late or require the scheduled time to be revised.
It is also crucial that all staff who undertake home community visits MUST have access to a mobile telephone and a separate lone worker safety device that works in Australia.
When using a shared lone worker duress alarm system ensure the lone worker has checked in with their profile information at the start of their shift. The best lone work safety alarm has a monitored service attached to it in order to support the worker 24/7 in the event of an issue.
Professional conduct at all times
Staff members should constantly be aware of their actions in relation to their own safety while on home/community visits including:
- Dress and modify behaviour appropriately for the environment.
- Avoid physical contact wherever appropriate
- Be aware of the location or doors and exits
- Minimise home / community visits after dark
- Consider safety when parking: avoid parking away from the client’s house or in isolated or poorly lit areas
- Always lock the car, valuable should be out of sight, as should any papers or other item with identifying information on them
- Retain car keys, wallet, duress alarm and mobile phone on your person
- Listen for any conflict that may be occurring on the premises prior to entering
Lone Worker Safety De-escalation Strategies
Staff should generally refrain from accepting the offer of food and beverages when undertaking a home/community visit.
Staff members should employ additional strategies to increase safety where initial risk assessment has identified a potential risk or to clients where a risk have been previously identified.
Should a client or other person in the environment exhibit aggressive behaviours or a staff member feels unsafe or threatened during a home visit, the staff member should take steps calmly to remove themselves from the environment. Once they’re are in a safe place they should press their duress alarm and/or contact their line manager.
Lone Workers Safety with Animals
- The lone worker must screen for the presence of animals when conducting the Home/Community Visit Risk Screen and advice clients’ prior to conducting a home/community visit that their animals must be locked /isolated in another area prior to and for the duration of the visit.
- Staff should be aware of the environment when they exit their car. If an animal or risk is evident and not restrained, staff must contact the client prior to entering the premises.
- Where required, clients will be contacted in advance to ensure animals are restrained prior to, and for the full duration of the visit.
- Staff should not conduct a home/community visit if any concern exists regarding animals. This should be discussed with in-line managers as to the risk that staff are potentially exposed to, including options for visits to occur at other suitable/alternate locations.
Lone Worker Alarm System
Lone worker safety systems like a duress alarm (or worker alarm) must be in pace to ensure lone working staff are monitored when on home or community visits.
A duress alarm allows an employer to have the reassurance knowing that their staff are safe while working alone or out in the community and should a worker require emergency assistance help is available to them at the press of a button 24/7.
Lone Worker Safety Monitoring
MePACS duress alarms offer a 24/7 monitored response service, which is ideal for lone workers, people working in the community, are isolated or work at night. It’s a fully monitored service responded to by trained professionals based in Australia, so you can be assured that when assistance is required, you get the right help to your team quickly.
In the event of an accident, violence, assault, fire or even medical emergency for you or a client, once the alarm is pressed MePACS will contact you within 2 minutes to find out what help you need and contact either a manager, security team or 000.
MePACS Duress Alarm Systems have the following features which provide reassurance for both the employer and their staff:
- Quick and simple to use
- One button activation
- Two way communications via the alarm
- Mobile alarms are splash proof
- GPS locator in duress alarm
For more information on MePACS Lone Worker Duress Alarms call 1800 685 329 or visit https://mepacs.com.au/services-products/duress-alarms/