This year’s Safety and Health Expo presented a great opportunity to reflect on lone worker safety and why employers must take every precaution to keep their staff safe.

It was a fantastic way for us to meet with new and old clients, and industry experts, and to share our own expertise in the Lone Worker Theatre. We hope that everyone who visited our stand or saw our presentations found them useful- you can read about our highlights and personal safety tips below.

Lone Working

The panel debate on the challenges of lone working brought together industry experts to discuss current issues facing both employers and their staff. Alongside Suzy Lamplugh Trust’s Saskia Garner, industry experts Gavin Boorman, James Clark and Dr Derek Mowbray explored specific risks in this area and how to best manage them.

Lone workers are not homogenous, and because of this, they need a varying level of support. That’s why it’s so important that the leadership in each organisation encourages personal safety training and awareness, it was suggested. Employers have a duty of care to staff who work in isolation: they must make sure that they have the support and knowledge they need to remain safe.

The panel agreed that it is vital that lone workers are equipped with a general awareness of personal safety so that they can protect themselves. There are increased risks associated with working alone because that member of staff must be alert, even in a crisis. From coping with trips and falls, to managing the threat of violence and aggression, lone workers continually assess danger for themselves.

“People should trust their instincts”, advised our personal safety expert, Saskia. “When you arrive at a job, be aware of the risks. Always make sure you know where the exits are and have a plan if you need to leave quickly.”

Suzy’s Code

In the Lone Worker Theatre, we presented Suzy’s Code for Personal Safety. The code was launched 30 years after the disappearance of Suzy Lamplugh, an estate agent who went missing while out of the office.

We encourage companies to get involved with the initiative and sign up to the code as soon as possible. It allows organisations to improve personal safety in the workplace by signing up to a set of guidelines.

Suzy’s Code for Personal Safety says organisations should:

- Implement a buddy system (so colleagues always know each other’s whereabouts and contact details. This should include checking in and out when meeting arriving at and leaving the property, including out of normal office hours)

- Have a system in place for colleagues to raise the alarm back at the office in case of an emergency while working alone

- Have a clear procedure to follow if someone does not return or check in when they were expected

- Where possible, arrange for viewers to visit the office before meeting them at the property so that colleagues have also seen them

- Offer all staff a personal safety alarm and have discreet lone worker devices available. Before conducting a viewing, find out who else will be present in the property (current tenant, contractors etc.) when you visit

- Finally, make sure all staff are aware of and have access to the personal safety measures available

For information on how your company can to sign up Suzy’s Code please email [email protected]

Personal Safety Training

Suzy Lamplugh Trust’s Training Consultant, Geoff Sloan, highlighted how to ensure that personal safety becomes part of your company’s culture. In his presentation in the Lone Worker Theatre, he spoke with Gerry Jarvis, from well-known company Danone, and explained how they were able to implement actions that improved personal safety without great difficulty.

“Danone took a three stage approach to improving personal safety”, said Geoff:

Perception: We worked with Danone of our ‘Train the Trainer’ training course. This allowed them to identify who was at risk, consider roles and functions they needed to focus on, and to develop risk assessment tools, including an effective incident and ‘near miss’ reporting system. Overall, this provided a foundation of personal safety knowledge for the company and meant that they developed a better awareness of risk and how to address different risks accordingly.

Proactivity: Using their learning, Danone made small changes. They made sure staff were engaged with materials and learning; they began to use a lone worker device; they developed Lone Working strategies relevant to job roles, personal values and individual attitutes; and they trained additional Personal Safety Trainers with training tailored to specific job roles.

Practice: After their training, Danone recognised that they needed to continue to observe practices to maintain a high standard of personal safety. The organisation ensured they monitored lone worker device use, and provided refresher training to ensure staff used them correctly. They also encouraged feedback from staff, and recorded all incidents and near miss reports, so that they could provide relevant support and improvements. All this was backed up with a continual improvement approach to personal safety.

Overall, Geoff and Gerry emphasised that Danone taking personal safety seriously was the key to their success. There was commitment to make changes at a management level, and the company ensured personal safety was treated as more than a box ticking exercise. As a result of this, Danone could address barriers and embed personal safety in the organisation’s culture. They are a great example to companies seeking to improve personal safety.

Essential for Every Company

We met an incredible range of people on our shared stand with Solo Protect this year. From speaking to vending machine engineers, vicars and nurses, to representatives from housing associations, student unions and charities, it was brilliant to see different sectors taking an interest in personal safety.

As the leading personal safety charity, we pride ourselves in our ability to provide bespoke training solutions to meet every company’s requirements. We tailor our sessions based on your needs, and have designed and delivered short workshops and training days, as well as rolling induction programmes for high turnover industries.

All of courses are designed to increase personal safety, and are delivered both in-house for larger companies and as open-access training courses for independent employees. We cover a variety of topics, including lone worker safety, home visits, risk assessments, conflict management, deescalation techniques and travelling safely.

Personal safety awareness is essential for every company. If you’re interested in our training, or want to find out more, please do not hesitate to contact us on 020 7091 0014 or [email protected]