- Posted by Mercury Security
- On July 19, 2016
- 0 Comments
I read with interest an article in the Antrim Guardian that highlights comments made by a former Security Guard and an Emergency Department nurse from Antrim Area Hospital who claimed that workers were being attacked on a weekly basis. The nurse concluded that just one security guard is on duty from 3pm to 6am every day, patrolling the whole hospital premises including the front reception, where CCTV monitors are located, and the renal unit, an external building, which must be locked up at night by the lone worker.
I regard this as a very serious matter and would be delighted to come along with the Training Manager of my company Mercury Security & Facilities Management to discuss with the Northern Health and Social Care Trust. I can offer my expertise that will hopefully contribute to preventing a very serious injury or loss of life going forward.
As with any other form of work, employers are expected to undertake a risk assessment before employees are allowed to work alone. In the Health and Safety Executive guidance document, a lone worker is defined as someone who works by themselves without close or direct supervision.
If you are employing a 3rd party to supply the security services have you seen all their paperwork and can you safely say all boxes are ticked?
Corporate manslaughter conviction
In February 2011, legal history was made when a company was found guilty of corporate manslaughter relating to an employee’s death. It was the first prosecution under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 and the company was fined £385,000.
Employees working alone should at all times be at no greater risk than other employees. It is an employer’s duty to assess risks to employees and take steps to avoid or control the risks.
Risk assessments and action plans aim to make good health and safety management more proactive than the traditional reactive approach. They need to reflect how dangers can change based upon various factors, such as perception, experience, location, time of day, the nature of the work being carried out and whether or not the employee is regarded as a lone worker.
It is therefore crucial that risk assessments are communicated, understood and reviewed by all parties involved regularly.
The HSE introduced a simple five-step risk assessment, which is illustrated below, to help employers establish the risk from a corporate perspective.
- Identify the hazards
As a first step, you should identify any possible hazards by examining: the nature of the job;
- The type of clients or customers the employee may work with or may encounter;
- The places, locations, times and environments that are relevant;
- The views of the staff; and
- Incident reports, including any near misses.
- Decide who might be harmed and how
Next, think about: which staff and types of employees might be harmed?
- What type of injury or ill health might occur – for example, through violence if employees are attacked;
- Through hostage taking or false imprisonment; or by doing something against the customer’s wishes?
- Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions
In this third step, you should:
- Decide whether the existing precautions are adequate or more should be done;
- Whether or not the risks are low or acceptable;
- Establish if there are systems in place aimed at eliminating or reducing the risk, and whether or not you have clear risk assessments;
- Find out if staff have skills in defusing situations;
- Discover immediately if your company or the company that you are hiring comply and has a clear policy, procedure and guidelines for visiting or dealing with clients while alone;
- Find out if there is a clear audit trail to ensure colleagues know the whereabouts of an employee in the event of non-return to the office or reporting back to head office; and
- Establish if staff has personal alarms, mobile telephones or mobile panic alarms (electronic ID badges) that can alert the employer to the employee’s location.
- What procedures are in place, are the lone working employees/staff being monitored by a NSI Gold approved Command & Control Monitoring Centre.
- Record your findings and implement them
At this stage, you or the company you are hiring should:
- Complete a risk assessment
- Design an action plan
- Communicate the information to employees. And you the client should receive copies of all the paperwork or computerised records for your filing.
- Review your assessment and update if necessary
Step five ensures you keep your action plan up to date by:
- Reviewing the plan on a regular basis, but at least once a year;
- Changing and amending the plan as required; and
- Ensuring the action plan is completed and implemented.
If you feel that any of the above applies to you or may benefit you as an employee, or an employer please do not hesitate to contact Mercury Security to arrange a free consultation of your health and safety and lone worker requirements.