Personal safety for frontline housing staff should be a priority as these employees continue to play a vital role within society; however, working between locations during the winter months poses a new set of risks that must be considered.
Housing staff may also visit homes in rural areas, which poses a new set of possible risks as there may not be anyone nearby to offer help in an emergency. It is important that each employee has at least one colleague who is aware of their location and that they feel both confident and safe in the destinations that they are working in.
The number of risks faced by frontline housing staff increases in the winter months due to seasonal changes such as cold weather and fewer daylight hours. These changes cause risks from weather hazards, travelling in the dark and the increased risk of slips, trips and falls – which according to the HSE, is the highest risk factor for injury at work, causing 29% of all injuries in 2019/20. This alone suggests that with icy conditions and colder weather on the rise, extra measures must be put in place to protect frontline staff.
Here are our top 5 tips on keeping your staff safe during the winter months:
- Encourage employees to check the weather beforehand. This will allow them to ensure their means of travel is safe or plan an alternative route if they have any concerns.
- Ensure that employees have suitable clothing and footwear for the weather, to ensure they stay warm and have a secure grip on potentially icy ground.
- Provide employees with a way of increasing visibility in darker hours. This could be a small torch or hi-vis clothing.
- Implement a system to keep track of employee’s locations, such as a buddy system. This is particularly important if the housing staff member is working in a rural area. Someone should always know each colleague’s route to and from work, as well as the length of time they expect each job to take.
- Supply staff members with a personal safety device or method of calling for help, in the event of a dangerous situation. Recent figures show that crime – notably gun and knife crime – increase around the winter months (particularly December).
Personal safety alarms are available in the form of dedicated devices or can be activated on your smartphone by downloading specialist applications. The benefits of having a personal safety alarm go far beyond the security felt simply by carrying one, providing employees with help at the touch of a button if they find themselves in a comprised situation and are unable to receive help from anyone around them. For more information on Peoplesafe’s services, click here.