WITH the COVID-19 pandemic continuing, and a new lockdown, our focus has been on the safety of all workers, be it on the front line, or working from home alone.
Since March 2020, when the lockdown initially began, most office-based employees moved to home working, meaning that they are now lone workers. The Health and Safety Executive defines a lone worker as ‘someone who works by themselves without close or direct supervision’, and for many people, this will have been a new style of working. With more of our contact with our teams being virtual (who hasn’t taken part in a Zoom quiz?), we have all had to adapt and it is imperative that employers recognise the added risks this entails.
It is important that you have a risk assessment of your workspace, even if it’s your dining room table, to make sure you have adequate equipment; but there also needs to be a focus on your wellbeing. Not having the direct contact that you would usually get from colleagues and others in your office or building, or even a quick ‘hello’ when you get your coffee on the way in, has increasingly impacted our mental health. Making sure you check-in and out with a buddy, even if you aren’t leaving your house, ensures that you are maintaining a level of contact as well as safeguarding, should something happen.
Looking at the other side of the workforce; those who are key workers, and still having to go into the office, be it a hospital, supermarket or pharmacy, there are additional risks to be aware of. Increasingly, during the pandemic, customers and consumers have been more aggressive towards those who are on the front line. Varying from spitting in someone’s face to swearing at them for not allowing them entry without a mask, these employees should not be experiencing this abuse for simply ‘doing their job’. No one should. The Suzy Lamplugh Trust has been pushing for the Government to take better action to support and protect workers who experience violence and aggression.
In 2020, one of our podcasts ‘Right To Be Safe: The Psychology of Aggression and Violence’ with Dr Claire Lawrence, included useful tips for staying safe during these times. These tips included an awareness of our own body language, as well as recognising that people’s actions and feelings will differ from our own, as they are trying to keep themselves and their family safe. We may not agree with someone’s feelings or behaviours but recognising that we all have differing opinions is vital and can de-escalate potentially aggressive situations.
This lockdown will come to an end, meanwhile let’s work together to ensure that everyone can go home, and work at home safely. Everyone has the right to be safe and ensuring this is a priority in these anxious times, seems more relevant than ever.