Every day across Britain, thousands of frontline housing staff will enter tenant’s properties as part of the vital role they play in the community. However, it is easy for these workers to find themselves in situations where their personal safety could be at risk.
Stepping into someone else’s property can be intimidating, especially when working alone, but unfortunately, lone working is often required by those working as housing officers, estate agents and those conducting repairs.
Recent figures from Inside Housing revealed that assaults towards housing staff have risen by 10% over the last 2 years, making it vital for employees to be aware of their personal safety. Additionally, employers have a Duty of Care to protect staff and therefore must put practical safety measures in place. Here are our 5 top tips:
- Always record the name, address, and contact phone numbers of all clients. This should be stored somewhere accessible to colleagues in the event of an emergency.
- Always let someone know when you are going to an appointment and arrange to call the office when you leave the property, including a rough time. If for some reason you fail to make this call, your colleagues should contact you to check that everything is ok.
- Never offer the client a lift or accept a lift from them to or from the property if you will be the only member of staff in the car. It is always safest to avoid close 1-1 contact where possible.
- Trust your instincts. If you feel uneasy about anything – whether when first speaking to the client on the phone or when meeting them in person – don’t tell yourself it’s fine; take action to improve your safety. For example, making a call to a colleague or make an excuse to leave.
- Record any unsafe visits. If you make a visit that made you feel unsafe in any way, this information should always be recorded and stored centrally. When booking future appointments this database can be cross-checked so that appropriate measures can be put in place e.g., conducting the visit with a colleague.
Even when following all of these tips, an incident can arise that can put your personal safety at risk. If you or your colleagues often work alone it may be worth implementing a personal safety system, such as Peoplesafe’s service that allows users to raise a monitored alarm at the touch of a button.