The risk of “violence or aggression” towards lone healthcare workers in community settings was highlighted at a recent HSE meeting.
Members of the HSE people and culture committee also discussed the Executive’s corporate risk register and the inclusion of “resilience” of staff members in terms of safety, health and wellbeing. The reference to staff safety in the risk register was set to be rewritten, the meeting heard.
“Physical risks are the biggest and most frequent risk that staff face,” according to minutes of the February meeting.
As part of the review of the risk register, the “focus currently is violence and aggression towards staff”, the committee was told.
The committee heard “that this seems to be happening more in the community settings where lone working can happen, and it affects staff in disability and intellectual disability settings”.
The Medical Independent asked the HSE for comment, but no reply was received by press time.
In terms of making working environments safer, committee members were told that the HSE’s focus in 2022 will be on ensuring “staff perform a risk assessment before going out into the various community settings to see what risks might be faced and to take mitigating actions”.
The committee asked whether there were other plans for the area.
It was told that “a targeted approach to violence and aggression and a review of the number of health and safety officers available were the main points of focus for this year”.
Last year, the national health and safety function, which is a unit in the HSE’s human resources division, wrote to management on the delivery of training in the prevention and management of work-related aggression and violence in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to the June 2021 document, a “thorough risk assessment must be undertaken, or updated as applicable, by the manager to identify and implement suitable control measures to mitigate the risk associated with the delivery” of this training during the pandemic.
“Where online methods of delivery alone are not suitable for the delivery of training and an element of classroom based face-to-face training is required, then a blended approach to learning should be accommodated where available to reduce classroom time and thus reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission,” the document stated.
The HSE Policy on the Prevention and Management of Work-Related Aggression and Violence 2018 provides guidance to managers and employees on how to manage work-related aggression and violence with a focus on risk assessment and management.