What to do if you work alone and are attacked at work
Want to know what to do if you are attacked at work? If you work alone with vulnerable people the chances are you are likely to feel or be threatened at work at some point.
Sometimes it is inevitable that it will escalate into a full-blown attack, and nothing you can do will prevent it.
But there are some steps you can take to remove yourself entirely from the situation and protect yourself if the worse should happen.
1) Don’t make yourself more vulnerable to attack
If you know that you are meeting a person with a history of aggression or going into a dangerous area, don’t work alone. Try to buddy up with a colleague or rearrange your meeting to a safer location.
Take every step you can to neutralise the likelihood of an attack taking place.
2) Set an amber alert and keep your lone worker device handy
That way if you are attacked or under threat you can call for help and a colleague or the emergency services can be there in a flash.
Sometimes, a colleague popping in to the meeting room or your phone ringing is all it takes to diffuse a situation.
When you activate your device, the operator will listen in. If it doesn’t sound like an attack is taking place they might call your mobile or a colleague to come and check on you.
Try to get into the habit of activating your lone worker device every time you work alone.
3) Plan your escape route
Before you enter the meeting, room or property make a mental note of where the exits are and seat yourself closest to it with no one blocking your way.
And if the service user offers you a different seat, don’t worry about being impolite. Just pop yourself down where you feel safest and make no mention of it. Its unlikely your service user will notice, or at the very most they will think you a bit odd. Better that then being unable to reach the exit in a dangerous situation.
Keep your shoes on too. That way, if you have to run you aren’t doing it in bare feet.
4) Excuse yourself if it starts feeling odd
You are intuitive. Your intuition has been honed through hundreds of generations of humans to keep you safe. Listen to that intuition when you work alone.
If something feels off, or you can feel the tension starting to rise, leave the room.
Go to grab a glass of water, fetch a new pen, or even pop to the loo. Just think of any excuse to leave the room and assess the situation. You can always walk back in with a new pen if you feel you have over reacted, but it is unlikely you did.
If you can’t excuse yourself safely, now is the time to activate your lone worker alarm. Do it now, rather than when you are actually under attack.
And if the worst should happen and you are stuck in a room with a mounting threat…
5) Stay calm and get out
Don’t get angry or shout as this will only escalate the situation. Don’t belittle or dismiss the aggressor either, as this could anger them more.
Try to act calmly.
Then find a way to escape. Maybe you are going to meet their demands or get a manger to remonstrate you for causing their grievance. Or maybe they are just distracted, and you can get to the door.
However, you do it, your goal is to get out. Don’t try to diffuse the situation, and don’t be worried about not toeing the company line. All you need to do is survive, and that means escaping.
And if you really can’t escape, say loudly and clearly that you need the police. The lone worker operator will hear that and spring into action, if they haven’t already done so.
How likely are you to be attacked at work if you work alone?
Violence at work happens, whether it is from a colleague, service user, member of the public, or even a stray dog. If you work alone, you are more vulnerable.
The HSE classifies violence at work as “Any incident in which a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances related to their work.”
That’s a fairly broad definition. But in 2016/17 there were 642,000 incidences of violence at work, according to this study by the HSE.
And it seems the majority of violence against those at work happens either from members of the public, or clients.
The HSE work related violence report states:
‘Strangers were the offenders in 55% of cases of workplace violence. Among the 45% of incidents where the offender was known, the offenders were most likely to be clients, or a member of the public known through work.’
The types of roles that had the most incidence of violence at work were by far ‘protective services’-firefighters, police, ambulance and so on.
Second was, unsurprisingly, health and social care professionals-so community nurses, support workers, social workers, for example.
But really, there are very few job roles that are immune to the dangers of lone working.
If you want to have a chat with us about getting a lone worker solution to protect you and your team when you work alone, get in touch with us. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in the contact form here.