When I stared this blog I wanted to avoid posting the obvious ‘scaremongering’ type headline cases. Just because I see plenty of presentations and training material filled with them and I don’t always find them very constructive. Not that it isn’t important to raise awareness of these incidents. It is. But more often than not we just see the headline and not the detail. And this is the crucial part. After we have processed the shock, surprise, fear elements that they are designed for, how do we ensure that we don’t as employers and employees fall foul ourselves.
In this recent HSE prosecution, the press release tells us the following:
Two Brent council staff were assaulted whilst visiting the home address of a vulnerable child.
The mother of the child assaulted them both with a metal object. One was knocked unconscious and has gone on to suffer PTSD.
Brent Council was found guilty of failing to following it’s lone working policy and violence and aggression guidance. And they failed to add an aggression marker to the records for the child/address.
The council was fined £100K.
What it doesn’t tell us is:
The extent to which the staff did or did not follow council guidance. Presumably they followed some of it but what went wrong?
How did they call for help, or did they not get a chance? I note from the internet that the council had a lone working mobile alarm service in place at the time. Were they using it and how useful was it?
Was there a system in place for recording violent markers? And what should they have had? I know many organisations struggle in this area especially when you try and factor in intelligence from other sources, police, ambulance, NHS etc.
What training did they have to deal with this type of incident? And what do the HSE feel was missing?
Was the mother prosecuted? Sometimes it is important for us to know how the police/CPS dealt with the incident and what, if any, sanctions were applied.
Could the home visit have been avoided? There is a suggestion in the report that it could have been but this opens up a much wider question as the pros and cons of visiting ‘clients’ in their homes and how this needs to be weighed up carefully.
What has Brent Council done since this incident to help improve the safety of it’s lone workers?
…and the list goes on.
I know the HSE feeds into the very useful Health and Safety Laboratory https://www.hsl.gov.uk/what-we-do and also compile their own case studies http://www.hse.gov.uk/resources/casestudies.htm. So hopefully the lessons to be learnt from this case will feed through. But sometimes it would be good to have it all to hand while the report is fresh in our minds. Just a final piece of the jigsaw that would be invaluable to everyone who works hard to protect the safety of lone workers.