We often talk in this blog about the kinds of roles where lone workers face risks. Indeed, in our last two blogs we’ve looked at some scenarios where the physical aspects of the worker’s job can play the biggest part. Working at height, or working in gaseous environments, have obvious risks attached – and clear ways of mitigating those risks. But for lone workers who deal with the public daily, the risks will often be focused on the behaviour of their clients or service users. One of the sectors where this is starkly illustrated is the social housing sector. And recent research paints a grim picture.
Levels of abuse against housing sector lone workers
Research by Inside Housing reveals 2,006 reported instances of abuse among 25,519 staff in 2018-19. This translated into a rate of 7.9 reported assaults for every 100 housing staff, up from 7.1 per 100 staff in the previous year. The data also shows an upward trend in the number of physical assaults being reported, from 161 in 2017/18 to 208 in 2018/19. The figures were obtained via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) responses from 139 stock-holding local authorities and direct survey responses from 28 housing associations.
Housing associations and local councils have been encouraging people to report such incidents, which could have had an impact on the figures. But even with this encouragement, many respondents to surveys stated that they didn’t report incidents to their line managers. There is anecdotal evidence that the public policy environment for people in social housing has been increasing tension. One survey respondent highlighted that, when people have been verbally abusive, they have also been experiencing problems with Universal Credit and the bedroom tax.
This year’s survey also detailed incidents where staff had been tracked down and abused on social media platforms. One respondent said they were labelled a “public nuisance” on Twitter and told they “should be put in a bin”. This tweet received likes from several other residents.
You can read the full article here: https://www.insidehousing.co.uk/news/news/assaults-on-frontline-staff-rise-10-in-a-year-survey-reveals-61963
Safe Hub gets housing sector lone workers the help they need
This research doesn’t specify the number of assaults or abusive incidents involving lone workers. But it’s safe to say the majority will have been workers who were out of sight or hearing of their colleagues. For such frontline lone workers in social housing, help is at hand in the form of Safe Hub. Our proprietary lone worker safety system connects a lone worker needing assistance with highly trained staff at our Alarm Receiving Centres (ARC). The ARC can direct emergency services to housing sector lone workers in trouble, bypassing 999 control centres to save valuable time.
We’ve deployed Safe Hub in a number of housing associations and social housing providers, to protect community-based lone workers. With Safe Hub, these lone workers have a range of safety features. These include an emergency function (Red Alert), a virtual buddy voice memo (Yellow Alert) and a periodic welfare check (Safe Check). Whether they’re using a dedicated device or a Safe Hub App, lone workers have powerful technology on their side.
Lone Worker Solutions is a nominated supplier under the PfH Framework
We’re making it easier for new clients to access Safe Hub too. Lone Worker Solutions is part of the Procurement for Housing (PfH) Framework Agreement, the national procurement consortium for the social housing sector. The Framework aims to make procurement of lone worker protection a simple and efficient process. It covers registered providers of social housing, local authorities or housing arm’s length management organisations.
To join the Framework, Lone Worker Solutions demonstrated that we will work for the benefit of all PfH Members’ stakeholders. We’ve shown that we have robust procedures around business continuity and quality assurance, and that we can provide value for money and positive social impact to PfH members. Any organisation using the PfH framework to run lone worker safety tenders will be able to access the full range of our apps and devices within our proprietary Safe Hub lone worker protection system. Two of the best options for housing providers are SOS Fob and the Safe Hub App for smartphones and mobiles.
It’s simply not acceptable for any workers to receive threats and abuse in their daily working lives. Together with housing providers, we can work towards making working life safer for housing sector lone workers.
To find out more about the PfH Framework and Safe Hub in the housing sector, contact Lone Worker Solutions and the Safe Hub team today.
Post by George Stavrinidis
George is Chief Executive Officer of Lone Worker Solutions (LWS). He believes passionately that everyone should be protected and supported at work. George supports LWS clients to make sure they enjoy the most effective relationship with the team and maximise the effectiveness of their deployment of Safe Hub.