A Risk Assessment should indicate any significant risk, and detail how the risks should be adequately controlled for mobile working to continue.

If a Risk Assessment shows it is unsafe to work alone or mobile, then arrangements should be in place for providing help or backup. For organizations with five or more employees, the Risk Assessment of significant findings must be recorded.

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Below are some helpful tips on carrying out a Risk Assessment prior to a field visit:

Mobile workers who make visits to clients in the field may be subjected to a range of safety risks. Prior to each field visit, mobile workers should conduct a risk assessment that includes the following:

Assessment of environmental factors

  • Does the worker have a complete and exact address of the visit, to avoid appearing lost or confused?
  • Does the neighborhood pose risks for violence?
  • Is the visit scheduled at a time of day that is more risky than other times?
  • Are there other factors that may pose a risk for violence or danger (weather or disaster conditions, extreme heat or cold, icy roads)?
  • Have any events occurred in the neighborhood within the last 48 hours that might increase risk (for example, homicides, abductions, robberies, drug raids)?
  • Does the area have reduced reception for mobile devices (for example, tunnels, rural areas)?
  • Are there groups or individuals in the path to the home or near the location of the visit?

Assessment of client’s living space

  • Does accessing the space require the use of an elevator or flights of stairs? Are common spaces well-lit and clean?
  • Are exits easily accessible?
  • Who is likely to be in the client’s home during the visit? Children / Parents / Other relatives or friends / Pets, including guard dogs?
  • Is/are the client, family members, or friends of the client known to engage in criminal or dangerous activities in the home?
  • Is there an increased risk of disease, infection, or pests in the home environment?
  • Is the family known to have weapons?

Assessment of proposed work activities

  • Will the mobile worker engage in high-risk activities during the visit (for example, removing a child, notifying of reduction in benefits, terminating parental rights, executing a civil commitment procedure, helping a domestic violence victim to a safe house, delivering other potentially unwelcome information)?

Assessment of increased risk due to client’s condition

  • Does the client have an active substance abuse problem, particularly with alcohol?
  • Does the client have a mental illness or personality disorder, particularly if untreated?
  • Does the client have a history of frequent violence or threatening behavior?
  • Does the client have a communicable disease?

Assessment of Mobile Worker vulnerability

  • Working alone
  • Visible physical conditions that increase vulnerability (pregnancy, disabilities, use of cane or walking aid)
  • Lack of experience
  • Appearing timid, vulnerable, lost, or confused (Worker vulnerability can be significantly reduced by having a lone worker panic alarm such as Guardian MPS)
  • Lax attitude and/or overconfidence
  • Worker bias or stereotyping that causes over or underreaction to safety threats
  • Attire (wearing jewelry and other valuables, high-heeled shoes, and so forth) that adds to vulnerability
  • Accessories (political buttons, religious jewelry) that may trigger reactions
  • Appearance (for example, tattoos, body piercings) that cannot be covered and that might attract/increase attention
  • Lack of a safety plan

Assessment of condition of emergency equipment that may be needed

  • Vehicle in good repair and working condition
  • Mobile device fully charged
  • Emergency telephone numbers available.
  • Lone worker protection solution in place
When a risk is identified, a safety plan must be created and adapted as necessary throughout the case planning and a plan of action to reduce or minimize that risk implemented.

(sourced from www.NASWDC.org)