Help & advice Personal safety Lone working On the frontline, for example receptionists, retail staff: Ensure you have a means of communicating with others. Some form of emergency alarm system should be in place which will enable you to summon assistance if necessary. Is it tested? Do people know how to respond? Make sure that any cash is kept out of sight. Working from home Try not to advertise that you work from home to prospective clients. Consider setting up a buddy system with someone so they know your plans for the day. Think about asking your ‘buddy’ to call you 10 minutes into any meeting with a new client to check that you are ok and feel comfortable with them. Have a predetermined code word ready in case you want to summon help. If clients have to come to your house, use rooms that are as professional looking as possible. Give some thought before you arrive as to what exit strategies you could use if you felt uncomfortable or threatened. Conduct your own risk assessment on the door step before you enter. If you feel at all uncomfortable or unsure, make an excuse and leave. Trust your instincts. Be mindful of the fact that you are entering someone else’s territory. Your presence there may be unwanted and/or pose a threat. As you enter, make a note of how the door opens and closes so that you can leave quickly, if necessary. Give the client an idea of how long the meeting will take and try to adhere to this. The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 requires employers, including unpaid volunteers or self-employed, “to prepare… a written statement of his general policy with respect to the health and safety at work of his employees”. They must also put in place “systems of work that are, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health”. It is important that a tracing system is in place that enables your employer/colleagues to know where you are and who you are with at all times. Risk assessments should be carried out by your employer to identify any risks related to the people, environment or tasks involved in your job. You also need to be able to make quick risk assessments yourself, which can help you decide how safe a situation is and what action you should take to avoid danger. If you are a lone worker, it is important that both you and your employer give particular consideration for your safety.