Lone working - A SAFER approach 

There are risks associated with working alone for many people in public facing roles, especially when home visiting is needed. There can be particular concerns about vulnerability to crime when out and about and aggression from the people they are dealing with.

This article looks at some simple procedures that lone workers and their back up team can adopt to minimise these risks.

“Social Worker Attacked with Knife” | “Civil Enforcement Officers Suffer Verbal Abuse” | “Planning Officer Assaulted” | Home Career Punched by Patient's Relative." 

These are headlines that may appear dramatic and sensational but for many lone workers, verbal abuse and the risk of physical violence at work is a significant issue.

Conflict can occur when delivering unwelcome news or upholding legal requirements, yet sometimes the greater risks are associated with being alone rather than inherent risks from service users. The good news is that individuals and organisations can improve safety and confidence through following procedures and training and by working as a team.

Some simple considerations for lone workers in the community include:


  • Prepare well for your visit and check warnings
  • Consider calling first to manage expectations, assess mood and gather helpful information
  • Establish who is likely to be present
  • Be prepared to change the meeting and venue and/or to involve colleagues
  • Follow lone worker communication procedures so colleagues can locate and check on you
  • Be able to raise alarm or contact help quickly in an emergency
  • Plan your journey to minimise exposure to risks such as crime

On arrival

  • Park safely and position for a quick exit
  • Have a ready excuse to avoid uncomfortable scenarios e.g. at a lift or stairwell
  • Continually assess people and environment on approach and at the door
  • Do not enter if you have concerns - have a ready excuse
  • Always be polite and respectful and be prepared to be firm when necessary
  • Think carefully how, where and when you may deliver unwelcome news
  • Once inside, position for vision and a clear exit path

Remember: Be prepared, rehearse procedures and trust your instincts!

For thousands of lone workers these simple steps are keeping them safe on a daily basis.

Contact us for help keeping your lone workers safe


Posted by Maybo on May 15, 2012



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