Are there different lone working procedures for different types of employee?
All employers are bound by the lone worker law in their country, however some organisations do have specific guidance issued to them to follow.
Lone working policy NHS
Protection of NHS staff is a topic that we often hear discussed in the media. Front line nursing staff and doctors can be targets for verbal abuse and aggression on a daily basis as they deal with the public. According to NHS Protect figures there were 70,555 reported assaults on NHS staff in 2015/16.
The NHS Security Management Service has published guidance on working alone safety procedure for protecting NHS lone workers. The guide helps staff to identify risks and put appropriate measures in place to protect NHS staff.
Housing Association Lone Worker Policy
Lone working in housing associations is commonplace as staff work within the local community. Unfortunately, for those working alone in the housing and property industry, violence and aggression is not uncommon.
Housing employees face potentially difficult situations on a regular basis as they enter client’s homes alone, work late hours, carry out maintenance and deliver bad news such as evictions.
According to research by Inside Housing, in 2015, 2,367 instances of assaults were reported by housing workers. Of 346 workers surveyed, 69% had been verbally assaulted while doing their job within 12 months, nine had been taken hostage and 27 had been kicked, pushed or punched. Lone working employees are left more vulnerable when dealing with difficult individuals and situations.
Read our guide to Protecting Housing Association Staff
Lone working policy for social workers
Social workers engage with the most vulnerable members of society. Managers must implement procedures and systems to ensure that the whereabouts of their team members are known at all times.
Procedures to monitor lone working social workers may include:
- Supervisors periodically visiting and observing people working alone
- Regular contact between lone worker and supervisor by phone or radio
- Automatic warning devices which operate if specific signals are not received from lone worker
- Regular checks of reception areas and interview rooms
- Implementation of lone worker devices which are designed to raise the alarm
- Checks that the lone worker has returned to base or home on completion of a task
There are particular tasks where social workers may be more vulnerable to risk. These include:
- Out of hours working
- Assessments of compulsory hospital admissions under the Mental Health Act
- Investigations of child abuse
- Removal of children from their care providers under an emergency protection order
- New contacts with members of the public where there is no previous background information
- Undertaking home visits
- Providing services to people who have a known record of violent or aggressive behaviour
- Escorting people who are potentially violent, or who may attempt to abscond