Lone workers sustain approximately 9% more injuries from a physical assault than non-lone workers. In primary care in 2013-14, 1,731 assaults were recorded, or 24 per 1000 staff, according to new NHS research.
A reason for the increased risk is lack of nearby support from a colleague. This may mean that lone workers are unable to prevent an incident from occurring or that they are more limited in their ability to withdraw, defend themselves or restrain the assailant, compared to staff working in tandem.
Lone worker safety devices are cited as one way to reduce the risk of assault among lone workers,and in primary care use of lone worker safety devices stands at 61.54%. But, the required degree of protection varies across sectors, says NHS Protect, which is responsible for the safety of NHS staff. It concludes: “While lone worker devices reduce the risk of assault, other factors may be contributing more to this figure.” Among those factors are dynamic (situation-specific and on-the-spot) risk assessment and staff training. NHS Protect stresses: “The importance of lone working should be recognised and that systems should be available that are cost effective, efficient and suited to different working practices in the NHS.”
Home delivery drivers, community nurses and GPs are among those staff members who may be at higher risk of a personal safety incident, due to factors including possession of equipment or drugs that might be attractive to thieves.
A range of resources to help practices to assess and manage the risks to lone workers has been added today to our Human Resources Zone for members’ convenience.
These include: guidance on completing a five-step lone worker risk assessment, questions and resources to inform your lone worker health and safety planning, and links to a directory of lone working safety devices.