HSE & Lone working
‘There are no absolute restrictions on working alone; However, the
law requires employers and others to think about and deal with
any health and safety risks before people should be allowed to
Health & Safety Executive (HSE
There are two main pieces of legislation that apply:
- The Health and Safety at Work Act (1974): sets out a duty of care on employers to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their employees whilst they are at work.
Employers are legally obliged to ensure, as far is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of their employees whilst at work.
Employees also have a responsibility to ensure their own safety, and that of colleagues and others present in the workplace, as well as bringing to the attention of managers any hazards of which they become aware..
- Management of Health and Safety at work Regulation
This regulation requires employers to assess risks to employees and non- employees and make arrangements for effective planning, organisation, control and review of health and safety risks
Policy and procedures
Lone working policies and procedures should be developed in line
with the organisations policy and procedures guidelines.
Policies and procedures must be kept under constant review to take
into account any changes in the external environment, the
introduction of new technologies and the lessons learned from the
investigation of incidents that occur.
The crucial element in ensuring the safety of lone workers is the risk
The main aims of a risk assessment are to find out whether the work
can be done safely by a lone worker
The steps that should be taken when carrying out a risk assessment are:
- Identify the possible hazards to the safety of workers working alone
- Identify safety measures to prevent incidents from occurring
- Record this information in an accessible place.
- Provide information and training to staff about the possible risks and measures to prevent incidents occurring.
- Managers and supervisors should monitor and review assessments regularly to ensure it is still valid.
Other Potential Hazards
- Office staff not able to answer queries out of hours
- Sudden illness of the care worker
- Having to park in unlit, isolated areas
- Violence from people on the streets, other drivers, from people using the service or
- their friends/ relatives
Potential Safety Measures
Assessment of people’s needs should include whether they or any of
their friends or family is likely to become aggressive whilst the care
worker is carrying out their care and treatment.
On – Call systems
Where a care worker has to carry out visits out-of-hours, either in the
evenings, at night or during the weekend or bank holiday, on-call
system may be required for care worker to be able to alert someone at
work to an emergency situation.
As part of the planning process, the emergency equipment that may be
required should be assessed. This might include a torch, map of the
local area, telephone numbers for emergencies a first aid kit and
alarms or devices with the agreed code words or phrases that should
Potential Safety Measures
Office staff should be aware of who each care worker is to visit during
the day, the order of the visit and the amount of time they should spend
on each visit.
Tracking and tracing systems
A system to be able to trace the whereabouts of the care worker.
It is essential that lone workers keep in contact with colleagues and
ensure that they make another colleague aware of their movements.
This can be done by implementing management procedures such as a
- Check any available records on the client prior to a visit. If they have any history of aggression, discuss the possibility of taking a partner.
- Make sure someone knows where you are going, who you are visiting and when you are expected to leave.
- When someone answers the door, check who you are talking to. Do not enter the house at all if the appropriate person is not available.
- Let them know how much of their time you will need.
- Acknowledge that it is their territory, let them lead the way and don’t take over.
- You may decide not to go in, or to leave immediately, if the person is, for example, drunk or obviously aggressive; listen to your instincts.
- Check as you go in how the front door locks.
- Study your surroundings; try to sit nearest the door.
- Take only what you need inside.
- Remain alert; watch for changes in mood, movements or expressions.
- If you feel at risk – leave as soon as possible. Have an excuse ready: e.g. that you need to get a form from the car.
Their body language
warning & danger signs / sign we may see
- Accelerated breathing
- Agitated movements
- Pacing / cant rest
- Widening stance
- Clenching fists
- Invading personal space
- Intent staring..
Your Body Language
Body that would class language as being :
- Orientation – face to face can be confrontational
- Space – 6ft at least 2 arms lengths
- Touching – try not to touch may lead to negative reaction
- Head movements – active listening or a victim?
- Be aware of your posture , slow down your breathing
- Hand signals – do not point, avoid jerky movements
- Repetitive movements can be seen as increased tension
De-escalation Communication Model
- State the behaviour – be specific tell them what they are doing ‘John you are shouting at me, I need you to lower your voice’
- State the impact of the behaviour on you – i.e its confusing me
- Request it to stop – ensure that stop is the last word i.e please stop
- Return to task – now lets see what we can do
Fight and flight – the law
Common law – Self defence
“ A person can use force as is reasonable to repel an attack”
What is reasonable?
Reporting and Documentation
It is important that staff are encouraged and supported by their
organisation to report all incidents of physical and non-physical
assault, using the organisation’s incident report form. This will
enable the organisation to conduct a thorough investigation and to
ensure that all appropriate cases of physical assault are reported
to the police as soon as possible for appropriate action to be taken.
This will also allow organisations to improve further the local
policies and procedures to minimise the risks that these staff face.
Staff should also report near misses that could have resulted in a
Employers should have measures in place to support any
member of staff who has been subject to an abusive or violent
incident. These might include a debrief following the incident,
psychological support, counselling services, post-trauma support,
peer support and access to the staff member’s professional or
trade union representative.
The organisation’s lone worker policy/procedure should provide
information about what support is available and relevant contact