Staying Safe When Lone Working in Social Housing – Top 5 Tips
Working alone in the social housing sector is unavoidable for most employees so knowing how to stay safe is essential. Roles are varied and can include some high-risk situations, especially when dealing with members of the public. That’s why being aware of the hazards and knowing how to stay safe is a top priority for employers and employees in the sector.
Below we have listed some of the hazards you may encounter in the social housing sector, along with our top five tips for keeping safe.
What Are the Hazards of Lone Working in Social Housing?
There are a variety of hazards those in the social housing sector face, the main ones being down to visiting tenants’ homes and the types of people encountered.
For anyone working in the social housing sector encountering members of the public is a daily occurrence. This is usually in the form of housing tenants. Housing officers perform a variety of duties, some of which include visiting communities and tenants. The vast majority of these visits will go to plan with no major incident but still, officers must be prepared for the unexpected. Social housing tenants can include people with mental health problems, those with drug/alcohol dependency, the elderly or disabled. Add to the mix the potential for housing officers having to deliver less than welcome news, chasing rent arrears for example, and the job can suddenly become quite a dangerous one. Maintenance workers will also have to enter properties and communities and face the same hazards as housing officers.
Working in social housing can also prevent several environmental hazards. For example, maintenance workers may have to work with electricity, gas or in some cases, work at height. Housing officers wont usually be exposed to any dangerous environmental hazards such as gas or electricity, but they may be working late when the nights are darker which presents trip or fall hazards. Another hazard that isn’t mentioned often but lone workers need to be aware of is the danger posed by animals. Housing officers should be aware and cautious when visiting tenants that keep dogs (or even cats!). Animals can be unpredictable, and this should be considered when encountering them.
Top 5 Tips for Staying Safe When Working in Social Housing
1) Know how to defuse hostile situations
As the main risk to those working in social housing comes from people and their potentially changing moods, you should be prepared to handle hostile situations. Your employer should provide training in how to defuse arguments and calm the person who is being hostile to you. you may never have to use these skills, but it pays to be prepared.
2) Be aware of location specifics
Sometimes, visiting new locations is unavoidable, especially for maintenance workers, but housing officers will often visit the same locations. Get to know the areas you cover so that you can stick to main roads, avoid locations that are known to be a problem or know when you need to be more alert. Even a little bit of knowledge of a local area can help you mentally prepare yourself and be on standby.
3) Carry a lone worker device
If you have a lone worker device, you should always keep it charged and to hand. With our KIT device you can wear it around your neck in the form of an ID badge or carry it as a handy key fob. Either way, you should be able to get to it quickly should you need it. get into the habit of always setting an ember alert before you enter a property or a high-risk community.
4) Diarise visits
Even if you have a lone worker device and your employer can see your location, all your visits should still be diarised anyway. Your employer should always know where you are. Not to check up on you but in case of an emergency. If you were to go missing your employer will be able to tell quickly who you last visited and where you should have been due next.
5) Learn how to read a situation
Often referred to as a dynamic risk assessment, having the ability to walk into any environment and summarise the hazards and work out what you can do to minimise them is a great skill to possess. You don’t have to physically write down any information or record it, but you should take note of who is in a room, where the exits are and quickly scan the room for anything that could be used as a weapon. Being able to do this quickly in your head means that you will be prepared should the worst happen.
Get in Touch
If you work in social housing or manage a team of housing officers then First2HelpYou provide a range of lone worker products that could be of use.
For help and advice please get in touch via our contact page or give us a call on 0333 7729401.