Are you sure your staff are safe while you are reading this article?
A new study of http://www.slatergordon.co.uk/ stress that more than 30% of public sector staff have been threatened or attacked at work.
The study was carried out by injury at work specialists from law firm Slater and Gordon, who claim they have seen a growth in cases involving violence against those in the public sector. Over 2,000 employees were surveyed, including 1,000 public sector staff (teachers, nurses and the emergency services).
Almost 25% of those asked had been threatened at work.
10% of all respondents from the public sector stress they have suffered physical abuse. Moreover, almost 50% of all attacks involved kicking, slapping and spitting. More than a tenth of interviewees complain they suffered broken bones and of those hospitalised, 7% needed more than a month to recover.
The most worrying thing is that almost all attacked respondents say it had happened on more than one occasion.
In addition, almost 20% had witnessed a colleague being attacked, with 20% too scared to intervene and help.
Who to blame?
More than 50% of respondents blame budgets reduction for putting them at risk by making their job more dangerous.
In addition, 50% of those who suffered a physical assault, stress their employer hadn’t done enough to support them and more than 20% from people who were attacked or witnessed a colleague being attacked had considered quitting altogether.
Almost half of all respondents from the public sector believe that threats from the public are now just a part of the job and more than 30% claim they no longer always feel safe at work.
More than half of nurses experienced violence or threats while on duty. At the same time, in the education sector, one in four teachers were threatened and more than a tenth were attacked.
Members of the public in the study were responsible for around 90 per cent of all physical attacks. The remainder were committed by other colleagues – although compared to the public sector, staff in the private sector were three times more likely to be assaulted by someone they worked with.
Overall, private sector workers were around a tenth less likely to be threatened, attacked or witness an attack.
What is more, more than 30% of those physically attacked said they were also regularly subjected to vile racist abuse, while almost 80 % had to put up with offensive language.
Tracey Benson, an expert in employers’ liability at Slater and Gordon, commented: “All employers have a duty of care to look after the health, safety and wellbeing of their staff and their top priority should be providing a safe workplace. “The Health and Safety Executive” has clear guidelines on what employers are required by law to do. If staff feel they are at risk, they should be listened to and taken seriously and everything reasonably practicable done to try and resolve their concerns.”
The number of people working alone (e.g. service, trade, social, medical and the whole of the care industry) is constantly increasing. More than six million people in the UK work either in isolation or without direct supervision.
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, states that employers have a legal duty to assess all risks to health and safety, including the risks for lone working. “I run a SME consulting company. I’m not a home carer or freelancer but I realise that if my staff spend time working alone in our office or visit our clients they should feel safe. I have a legal duty to protect my staff at all times. A Lone Worker risk assessment is the critical first step to complying with the law. The second is then to protect both staff and my business. I do not want to wait until something happens to find out the impact on my staff and the cost to my business! “, says Robert Little, the Founder of MyTeamSafe and Operations Director, HILLINGAR.
Lone work does not automatically imply a greater incidence of violence or higher safety risks, but it is generally accepted that working alone does increase the vulnerability and anxiety of workers.
Due to inaction, if an incident happens to a lone worker it could cost a company up to £20,000 for each breach. In serious cases responsible people could also face imprisonment or a disqualification from acting as a company director for up to 15 years. How to protect your team?
Recommended procedures from MyTeamSafe:
1. Assess all areas of risk including feeling vulnerable or exposure to violence, as well as manual handling, the medical suitability of the individual to work alone and whether the location(s) of work itself presents risks.
2. Be aware that normal risks can be heightened for a person working alone.
3. Set up safe systems of work, utilising technology, where appropriate, to enhance response times and resilience.
4. Fulfill requirements for training and how best to monitor and supervise employees. Set limits for what is permissible during lone working and establish a clear action plan in the event of an emergency.
5. Ensure that it is a core part of your HR policy and that everyone is committed to maintaining lone worker safety.
The benefits of using technology for lone workers are the following:
It does do not require supervisors to make periodic visits as lone workers can “check-in” electronically.
A simple panic alarm can be activated immediately warning a designated contact of an incident.
The company does not need to involve staff to constantly monitor lone workers as the system automatically escalates warnings and detailed information, including Location (if activated), by Text or email so the relevant person can take control of the situation.
A complete activity audit log is constantly recorded, so you know where your staff were and when.
“We never realized how frequently someone ended up working alone until we carried out a risk assessment. We tried manual options but these weren’t effective and were difficult to manage. Many systems turned out to be cost prohibitive for the risks we had identified. We also wanted to keep it personal. After much research we picked MyTeamSafe. It was so quick to set up and run. Now, whenever someone is working alone, we know where ever they are and they are safe. We can even log into the web Dashboard if we want to see what’s going on. Staff are reassured and I know we are covering our legal duty of care.”, says Michael Gough, Operations Manager, Stevens Rowsell (Precision).
Every good company needs to retain and take care of their employees. A company cannot afford for them to be off work or feel vulnerable. On average the price for the light touch app starts from £1.25 a day per company. This is a tiny price to pay for confidence, safety and duty of care. Lone working protection has benefits and cost savings for everybody.