The Safety of Public Facing Lone Workers

Public-facing lone workers are staff that deal with the general public on a regular basis. They might encounter them in a public place, or be required to visit people in their homes.

Examples of public facing lone workers

  • Estate Agents
  • Parking Enforcement Officer
  • Housing Officer
  • Social Worker
  • Community Midwife
  • Charity Donations Collector

Typically, this type of lone worker is most at risk from the ‘People’ element of our PET risk methodology (People Environment Task).

Who are they meeting: is it total strangers or people well-known to them; is their presence likely to be welcome or are they dealing with a difficult situation; does the person have a history of violence or aggression?

The biggest risk factor across all workplaces in the UK is dealing with difficult customers, patients and pupils (65%)

Lone workers are often regarded as easier targets, making them higher risk for verbal and physical abuse depending on the nature of their work:

  • Working with vulnerable members of the public – a NHS worker treating mental health patients
  • Working behind closed doors with members of the public –an estate agent showing people around a property
  • Delivering bad news – a housing officer serving an eviction notice
  • Working with large sums of money – a corner shop owner cashing up at the end of the day

Risk control measures

There are a number of measures that can be put in place to help reduce the risk of verbal and physical abuse towards public-facing lone workers:


  • Implement a lone worker service to provide additional support
  • Training in conflict resolution and dynamic risk assessment
  • Add CCTV where applicable

Lone Workers

  • Don’t engage with someone under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Keep a clear route to the exit
  • Remain professional – avoid using an aggressive tone of voice or body language
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