GoLexia recognises that some staff are required to work by themselves in the community without close or direct supervision, sometimes in isolated work areas or out of office hours.
Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, GoLexia has a duty of care to advise and assess risk for workers when they work by themselves in these circumstances. This Policy Statement is designed provide a common sense framework to deal with most situations. However, this policy cannot be entirely prescriptive and is not designed to provide solutions to all scenarios but there are some useful general guidelines.
Where the conditions of service delivery or its associated tasks require staff to work alone, the individual staff member has a duty to assess and reduce the risks which lone working presents.
This policy is designed to alert staff to some of the risks presented by lone working, to identify the responsibilities each person has in this situation, and to describe procedures which will minimise such risks. It is not intended to raise anxiety unnecessarily, but to give staff a framework for managing potentially risky situations.
To minimise potential risk, information of clients will be kept in a database showing a name, contact number and address. In conjunction with a timetable for clients, it will be possible to pinpoint the location of staff members whilst they are working with clients in the event that contact needs to be made.
Some examples of the types of actions which contribute towards a safe working environment in regards to home visits:
• Park as near as possible to the address to be visited;
• At night, park in a lighted area;
• Avoid as far as possible waste ground, isolated pathways and subways, especially at night;
• Assess the situation as you approach. If you are in any way unhappy be prepared to abandon or postpone the visit. Do not compromise your own safety;
• Do not enter the house if the person answering the door gives any cause for alarm i.e. if the service user is not there, if a potentially dangerous relative is present, if they are drunk;
• Always follow the occupants into a building;
• Treat service users courteously, remembering that you are a visitor in their home.
• If, in the course of a trip away from the office, plans change significantly, this should be communicated back to the office.
It is impossible to avoid all risks when working away from the office. It is, however, possible to adopt a safety attitude and approach. Any working alone situation should consider the following issues:
1) Where the staff member is working and how far removed it is from other staff
2) Availability of communications and the relative speed of response
3) The chance of aggression, violence or abuse
4) The risk of accusations without witnesses present
5) The risks involved in travelling to and from a location
6) The comments from other relevant staff either verbally or on files regarding previous visits or meetings
7) The nature of the activity (e.g. bringing bad news or facts that may be interpreted as criticism)
As staff will often be working with children, it is important to note that children cannot be left with a member of GoLexia’s staff unattended. Parents, relatives or guardians should be in the vicinity of children being supported. Children can also be spontaneous, and any unacceptable behaviour should be brought to the parents’ attention in addition to letting another member of staff know.
Staff members should avoid physical contact with clients so as not to seem inappropriate.
In the event of a staff member not feeling safe, they should contact the office as soon as possible and/or retreat from the situation.
In the event of changes to the anticipated time of return to the office, staff must contact the office in advance to notify the office of the new estimated time of return.