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Worker Safety


Worker Safety ... Maximizing Your Safety ... How to maximize your own safety when in your agency. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Worker Safety

Worker Safety
  • No one can protect you from all risk, but there
    are things you can do to maximize your own

Maximizing Your Safety
  • Think of a time when someone made you do
    something you really didnt want to do. Could
    have been a parent, a date, a boss. Write down a
    quick description of the event.
  • How did you feel when you were pushed to do what
    you didnt want to do? Write down a couple of
    words describing those feelings.
  • What did you do? Write down a few words
    describing what you did.

Maximizing Your Safety
  • How might your feelings and behavior when forced
    to do something you didnt want to do relate to
    working with your clients? Make a few notes to
    yourself as your supervisor will ask you about
    this later.
  • Several internal factors have been associated
    with aggressive encounters. These include fear,
    humiliation, grief, and a sense of powerlessness.
    Its hard to imagine that many of our clients
    dont come to us with some of those feelings.
    They have many of the same feelings we do when
    forced to do something we really dont want to
    do. The difference may be that they havent
    learned to deal with those feelings in ways that
    are safe either for themselves or for others.

Maximizing Safety
  • There are many things you can do to maximize
    your own safety. Almost all of them include 2
  • Working in an agency with good safety planning.
  • Being pro-active yourself.
  • This module is designed to remind you of things
    you probably already know about being safe and to
    suggest some new ideas that may help keep you
    safe while doing the important work of child

Purpose Unit 1
  • When finished with this unit, you should know
  • How normal it is for people to come to our
    offices feeling embarrassed, hopeless, fearful
    and powerless.
  • How to maximize your own safety when in your
  • What to pay attention to as you come and go from
    the agency.
  • How to maximize your safety when going on home

Maximizing Your SafetyIn the Office
  • Know your agencys safety procedures. Typically
    these include
  • How to summon help to your office if you feel
  • Instructions for tornado and fire
  • Protocols for handling blood born pathogens
    other contagions.
  • Pay attention to the arrangement of your office.
    Do you the client have ready access to the
    door? Keep weapons of opportunity, e.g.,
    scissors, letter openers, paper weights, off your
    desk. Keep personal information out of sight.
    Leave the door open if unsure about a clients
    self-control or if the client seems agitated.

Maximizing Your SafetyIn the Office
  • Be aware of signs of potential violence. Take a
    few moments now and make a list of indicators
    that the person in front of you might be ready to
    loose control and strike out at you. You will
    review the list with your supervisor later.
    Think of physical and verbal cues.

In the Office
  • Things you can do to protect yourself
  • Prepare yourself before the client comes in.
    Read the file, talk to relevant
    co-workers/supervisor. The single best predictor
    of violence, is past violent behavior. If
    reading the file raises red flags, talk to
    your supervisor before seeing the client so you
    can both plan for a safe meeting.
  • Accept that interviews, particularly initial
    interviews, can be very difficult for clients.
    Remind yourself not to take things personally.
    This isnt about you, its about the work you do,
    the position you hold. This is when really being
    a professional is essential.
  • Stay calm, avoid any defensive or aggressive
    behaviors, words, tone of voice yourself.
  • Start with respect and stay with respect. The
    best tool in your professional bag is a
    respectful working relationship with a client.
    Calmly validate any feelings being expressed,
    while providing clear guidelines, choices and
  • Watch out for power struggles. Avoid insisting
    the client confront upsetting material if they
    already are upset.
  • If you feel that an interview is getting out of
    hand, end it firmly and quickly.

Coming to Work and Leaving
  • When parking, remember that it may be dark when
    you leave. Will your car be in a lighted area at
    the end of your workday?
  • Is the office located in an area that can be
    unsafe? When staying late, arrange for someone
    to walk you to your car.
  • Lock your car. Put valuables in your trunk
    before you leave home. When returning to your
    car, get in, lock the doors immediately.
  • Never leave identifying items visible in your
    car, e.g., envelopes/bills with your address on

Home Visits Before Leaving
  • Before you leave, do a safety assessment. Doing a
    safety assessment before you leave the office
    will allow you to decide what preventative
    measures you should take, such as who to bring
    (going out in teams, or with police), when to
    visit, and how to proceed. Preparing a safety
    plan includes
  • Reading the file (refer to earlier slide).
  • Talking to previous worker, supervisor, if
  • Getting information about the area you will be
  • Make sure that you check out of the office with
    information as to where you will be and when you
    will return.
  • It is safest to visit in morning hours. There
    tend to be fewer people hanging around on the
  • Take a cell phone with you.
  • Make sure your car has sufficient gas.
  • Have directions ready.

Home Visits Traveling to Site
  • Drive with doors locked.
  • Be aware of the signs of drug/alcohol use as you
    approach the clients residence. (More in later
  • If there are people hanging around the clients
    residence and they make you uneasy, consider
    either leaving or calling the client to come out
    and walk you to their place.

During Home Visits
  • Make it clear that you have a schedule and are
    expected for a next appointment.
  • Do not give out personal information.
  • As in the office, have clear access to an exit.
    If uneasy, sit in a chair/sofa that allows you to
    get up quickly.
  • Unless absolutely necessary, do not go into a
  • If there are people in the residence that are not
    relevant to the interview, ask the client to have
    them leave the room so you can have a private
    conversation. An alternative would be to go to a
    room like the kitchen for more privacy (only if
    there is an exit from that room).
  • If you feel unsafe, leave.

Home Visits Meth Labs
  • Know the signs that a residence is a
    methanphetamine lab
  • Unusual, strong odors (like cat urine, ether,
    ammonia, acetone or other chemicals).
  • Windows blacked out.
  • Lots of traffic - people coming and going at
    unusual times.
  • Excessive trash including large amounts of items
    such as antifreeze containers, lantern fuel
    cans, red chemically stained coffee filters,
    drain cleaner and duct tape.
  • Unusual amounts of clear glass containers.

  • You are on a home visit, and Mom's boyfriend
    comes home. He glares at you and paces around the
    room. When you explain who you are and why are
    visiting, he yells at you. He begins cursing and
    gesturing, but stays away from you. What do you
  • The Social Service Division, North Carolina
    makes the following suggestions
  • The main rule (and it's easier said than done) is
    to remain calm. A calm tone, demeanor, and
    presence transfers to others. Speak in a clear
    and direct manner, so the person can hear what
    you are saying through the anger.
  • It is not a good idea to tell the client to "calm
    down." By saying this, you communicate that you
    do not understandif you did, you would
    understand why he or she is so upset. Instead, be
    empathetic. Talk about the frustration or problem
    that has come up. Reflect feelings and behaviors
    such as "you look angry.

  • Reinforce your calm tone with non-threatening,
    non-confrontational body language. Move slowly.
    Avoid putting your hands on your hips. Position
    yourself to the side of the person, so you are
    not squarely facing them. Avoid extensive eye
    contact and physical closeness. Do not touch an
    angry person. Do not stand between the person and
    the door.
  • You can also use different strategies to help an
    angry person calm down. One method is to offer
    the person choices, such as talking later or
    agreeing on a cooling off period. Allow the
    person to save facegive him or her a way out.
  • Attempting to distract or change the subject can
    sometimes work, but be careful, as this may
    further anger people if they realize you are
    diverting them. Don't use humorin the haze of
    anger, it is too easily misinterpreted.
  • Even if the person seems to be calming down, be
    patientit takes a person about 30 to 40 minutes
    to calm down from anger physiologically (Griffin
    et al., 1995). If you have done what you can and
    things still seem to be escalating, leave the
    situation and/or get help.

  • Following are good websites with more in-depth
    information on safety in social work.
  • http//
  • http//