Lone Working Policy and Procedure Executive Summary
Aim and Purpose of the Policy and Procedure
NIGALA has a legislative duty under the Health & Safely at Work (NI) Order 1978 to ensure employed staff, Recruitment Agency Workers and Self-Employed Guardians work in a safe environment. Lone workers can be particularly vulnerable to risks that do not present themselves in other circumstances. Through a process of risk management, risks can be identified and controls put in place to reduce/ eliminate the risk. The aim of this Policy and Procedure is to provide information as to how, as an organisation, we can work together to ensure all are as safe as reasonably practicable when undertaking duties relevant to their job.
The Policy outlines the roles and responsibilities of the Chief Executive, Senior Managers, Line Managers, employees, Self-Employed Guardians, Risk Committee, Health & Safety Committee and the Quality Assurance & Training Manager. The Procedure provides practical advice and guidance to Lone Workers and Managers on their roles/ responsibilities, the identification of risk, lone worker considerations, good practice guidelines, dynamic risk assessment and emergency response steps in the event of an emergency.
What is Lone Working and Who Does it Apply To?
Lone working is defined by the NHS Security Management Service as ‘any situation or location in which someone works without a colleague nearby, or when someone is working out of earshot of another colleague’.
It is recognised that many employees and Self-Employed Guardians NIGALA can be required to work alone or find themselves in such circumstances. The Lone Working Policy and Procedure applies to all employees, Recruitment Agency Worker and Self-Employed Guardians.
Practical Implementation of the Policy
Identification and Assessment of the Risks
There are a number of considerations that a lone worker must take into account when going about their everyday work, including:
- From the outset it is important to consider and identify the risks in the case. Managers and Guardians (employed and Self-Employed) should be aware of the safety risks to staff.
- If a risk is identified, are other professionals involved in the case aware (for example, Trust Social Workers, Solicitors)?
- When identifying a location for interviewing a client, consider the risk and if it is appropriate to hold the meeting in an office rather than the client’s house.
- Does anyone know where you are and what your plans are? To mitigate this you should update your Outlook scheduler with the address of the client being visited. Your phone should be charged and on your person.
- A robust safety plan should be put in place in case assistance is required (please refer to pp. 8-9 of the Lone Working Policy.
- Not all risks are identifiable and there is potential for unexpected threats to your safety. If such an incident were to occur, who would you contact for help or to debrief? The Policy and Procedure outlines the appropriate reporting process for when an incident occurs.
Managing the Risk
- There needs to be open and clear communication between managers and staff in relation to risk.
- Managers should be aware at the point or allocation or through supervision of the potential risks posed in cases. The issue of risk in cases should be discussed at supervision and advice given.
- When an incident occurs, managers are required to log and report the incident and provide support for the staff member or Self-Employed Guardian involved. The appropriate procedures should be followed, including reporting the incident to the PSNI (if appropriate) and liaising with relevant Trusts.
The Way Forward and Mitigating the Risk
The following recommendations are made as suggestions for creating as safe a working environment as practically possible:
- Effective diary management to include the updating of your Outlook Scheduler with appointments/ visits;
- Code words are agreed in advance in case of an emergency;
- Buddy system which exists informally ;
- Up-to-date records are kept centrally of employees and Self-Employed Guardians work mobile phone numbers and these are easily accessible;
- Training is provided to staff and Self-Employed Guardians on personal safety in general and the Lone Working Policy and Procedure in particular.