Professional Comment

How Care Providers Can Help to Improve Employee Safety

Naz Dossa, CEO of Peoplesafe and BSIA Chair of the Lone Working Group, highlights the risks for those working in the healthcare sector and discusses how care providers can improve employee safety (

A landmark study conducted into perceptions of personal safety at work revealed that, alarmingly, 6.8 million employees worry about their safety on a weekly basis. While concerns for safety were expressed industry wide, some sectors – particularly public facing roles – experienced higher levels of aggression and anxiety. In the healthcare sector specifically, 1 in 4 employees were found to worry about their safety at least once every week, with health and care workers 94% more likely to worry about their safety than those in white-collar jobs.

Sadly, public-facing industries – including healthcare, retail and hospitality – are facing increased aggression from those they deal with on a daily basis, whether it’s angry customers or frustrated patients and their family members. A disturbing 74% of health and care workers, including doctors, nurses, carers, and social workers, are worried about aggressive behaviour from patients, while 44% say they have received verbal or physical abuse from a member of the public.

A certain level of security, or at least safety in numbers, is provided in healthcare establishments such as hospitals and doctor’s surgeries; however, for lone workers or those in the community, the risk of violence and abuse is even greater. 59% of care workers are concerned about the dangers of entering the home of a member of the public – a common social care requirement. In fact, hybrid workers ranked as the category of employee feeling the most unsafe, with nearly three-quarters reporting safety concerns.

Not only are these growing concerns a huge issue for employees but this also has a knock-on effect for employers. Unsurprisingly, negative experiences involving safety issues often contribute to decisions to change career, with 1 in 4 having left a job due to a safety concern in the last 5 years. Furthermore, results show that those who experience a negative work-related event have lower overall job satisfaction across every aspect of their role, not just wellbeing.

With one in ten NHS jobs currently vacant, these stark concerns around safety provide a bleak incentive for the frontline care roles currently facing a recruitment and retention challenge. Even more worrying, many employers either underestimate the level of concern, or are unaware of it completely.

Reviewing safety concerns and putting solutions in place to improve protection increases job satisfaction, employer brand and staff retention – invaluable to overcoming the current staffing crisis. Compliant employers follow the rules but it’s the smartest employers that take the extra step, understanding that going beyond the basic level of compliance is what will result in a happy, healthy workforce – one that feels truly safe and appreciated.

So how can healthcare providers do more to protect their workforce?
Harking back to public-facing industries, just this week, Tesco followed in the footsteps of John Lewis and Sainsburys, announcing that it would be offering all its staff body cameras. This comes amid a disturbing rise in violent attacks – with staff experiencing an increase in physical assaults by a third in the past year. Where CCTV systems may cost thousands of pounds, some personal safety alarms and other solutions are now the price of a cup of coffee – a small price to pay for instant peace of mind.

By supporting owners and operators to act in the best interests of their employees, we must shift the dial on the importance of employee safety and are calling on more employers and the Government to work together. Taking action to protect employees both in and out of the workplace, 24/7, Crimestoppers has partnered with Peoplesafe, to encourage people to ‘Step Up. Stay Safe.’ – calling on all UK employers to act.

While some care providers already have, and are going beyond, the basic legal duty of care, if more were to commit to providing greater protection and peace of mind through recognised standards across the board, the UK healthcare sector would find itself in a much safer place.