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What can be done to prevent assaults on some of the most vulnerable staff in the UK?

23 February 2018
 February 23, 2018

Employees, especially those with public facing roles are vulnerable to experiencing assaults within their working environment. The figures for this type of crime have been significantly rising year on year, with little sign of improvement.

When working alone or with no one in close proximity, the risk is heightened greatly. Not only are lone working employees more of a target, they face the problem of not being able to easily seek help if an emergency was to occur.

With the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) yearly reports, it can be identified that in the year of 2016/17 both the retail and the health and social care sectors experienced the highest number of serious staff assaults. Roles within health and social care include community nurses and social workers who are responsible for visiting people’s homes, often alone. Due to the nature of their work they can be exposed to vulnerable individuals. Official figures revealed by the NHS’s safety advisory body found that in the year of 2016-17 there were 70,555 violent assaults on doctors, nurses and other health service workers.

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics Crime Survey found that in 2017 there was an estimated 5.2 million incidents among staff within the retail sector. Retail staff could be considered more vulnerable due to them often working alone, during late hours whilst dealing with high amounts of cash. Shop workers, especially those working in smaller independent stores also face risks of assaults due to being responsible for closing up at night.


What staff can do themselves to minimise these risks:

  • Act Vigilantly: Ensure you act vigilantly at all times whist at work, always be aware of your surroundings to sus out any potential risks that you could face.
  • Trust your instincts: It’s important to trust your instincts, if someone starts to act suspiciously during a house visit or within your working environment report it or try and seek help before it escalates.
  • Carry out a Risk Assessment: Depending on what type of work you are doing you should always carry out your own mini risk assessment. If you’re visiting a patient’s home, before you enter make sure you analyse your surroundings.

What organisations can do to minimise these risks:

Implement strict safety procedures: Ensure your organisation has clear health and safety procedures. If staff are aware of their rights but also the risks associated with their profession, they may take more care in the process.

 Training: Providing staff with training is extremely important. Regular training sessions should include practice scenarios and how to deal with them in the best way.

 Implement a lone worker protection system: Of the types of lone workers who most commonly experience violent attacks, a high majority tend to be those who are mobile and travel to multiple locations a day.

Due to this, having a solution that staff can use 24/7 is vital. Carrying a personal safety alarm such as Skyguard’s MySOS device or lone worker smartphone app allows you to press a button and get help subtly, without alerting the other party. When activated, trained Controllers can view your location; listen in, and send for the Emergency services if they feel urgent assistance is required. Secret duress code words or phrases can be chosen beforehand to indicate a problem when overheard. This can help a member of staff get fast, effective help without alerting an aggressor.


Click here to utilise Skyguard’s lone worker solutions, you can trial any of our devices and app free for 30 days.