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How safe are your staff?


Many employers do not take their responsibility to protect staff seriously enough, according to national personal safety campaigner Diana Lamplugh. Changing work patterns have meant that many more people - secretaries and administrators in particular - have to carry out tasks alone and away from the office. And a TUC survey last year recorded that 24 per cent of women aged between 25 and 34 have actually been threatened with attack.

Employers have a legal obligation to ensure their staff's safety and establish a strategy for risk prevention. Without this, they risk lawsuits and damages, or increased insurance premiums.

The mobile phone many people rely on for protection is in practice unlikely to be of much use: in a sudden attack, the victim will seldom have time to make even a 999 call, let alone relay accurate details of the location. And there may be no one nearby able or willing to respond to a rape alarm. But there are other devices available that claim to offer much more security, usually in the form of tracking mechanisms for both vehicle and employee.

The dangers are not only outside the office. The same TUC report found that in any one year one worker in five suffers a violent attack or abuse at work. Office staff are among the lower risk groups, but, says a commentator, "nowhere is completely safe".

Common sense is crucial in matters of personal safety. Never put yourself, or allow your staff to put themselves, in a vulnerable situation - where an employer, colleague or intruder can attack or harass. People working late alone should ensure that a friend or family member knows where they are. And those who have to travel alone for work should always tell at least one colleague where they are going and when they are expected back.


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