SWI - Inspector Safety at Work - A Guide


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Inspector Safety at Work - A Guide

1. Extracts From the Department's Safety Statement
2. Suggested Preventative/Precautionary Measures
3. Visits to Customer's Home/Premises
4. Training
5. What to Do if a Problematic Situation Occurs
Appendix 1 - Office Notice On Threatening Behaviour
Appendix 2 - Incident/Accident Report Form


The purpose of this Office Notice is to raise Inspector awareness of safety as an issue when carrying out their duties, to promote and encourage personal safety of Inspectors and to act as a guide to minimise the risks to Inspectors of customer aggression in all its forms verbal, physical and psychological.

This Office Notice should be read in conjunction with the Department's Health and Safety Statement, Office Notice H&S 1/03 (both available in the Health and Safety folder in the CIRCULARS drawer on All-in-One) and the SWI's Code of Practice available in the GUIDELINES shared drawer.

1. EXTRACTS FROM THE DEPARTMENT'S SAFETY STATEMENT

1.1 It is the duty of every employee to take reasonable care of his/her own safety, health and welfare while at work.

1.2 It is the duty of every employee to take reasonable care of any other person who may be affected by his/her acts or omissions while at work.

2. SUGGESTED PREVENTIVE/PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES

2.1 Treat all clients in a courteous and professional manner. Be fair and reasonable at all times.

2.2 In preparation for interviewing a customer, all relevant files/papers should be read carefully in advance to enable the inspector to acquaint himself/herself with the case and assess any potential risks.

2.3 If concerned, confirm with other colleagues if there has been any prior dealings with a customer and check whether such interaction proved difficult from a safety viewpoint.

2.4 Where it is anticipated that there may be difficulty dealing with a customer, the case should be discussed in advance with management/colleagues to decide the most appropriate approach i.e. for two staff to deal with the particular customer and/or to consider the merits of desk rather than home interview etc.

2.5 Carry mobile phone with quick dial phone up facility on your person at all times and arrange to check in with a colleague or the office, where considered prudent.

2.6 Inspectors should be aware that it is an option to register their vehicles to their place of business rather than their home address.

2.7 Where feasible, and when considered necessary, let colleagues know your planned itinerary, and the time you expect to complete your calls.

3. VISITS TO CUSTOMER'S HOME/PREMISES

Inspectors should always be mindful of the fact that they are entering private dwellings/business premises and should conduct themselves in accordance with the Code of Practice for Social Welfare Inspectors. In connection with such visits, the following should be borne in mind:

3.1 In order to reduce the threat of customer aggression and the risk of accusations from a customer of inappropriate behaviour by an Inspector, it is imperative that Inspectors behave in a professional and irreproachable manner at all times.

3.2 Step back a couple of paces once you have knocked at a customer's door, so you can assess the situation before entering. Where staff intuitively feel uncomfortable with a situation, they should defer the interview.

3.3 Always introduce yourself and if not invited, ask permission to enter.

3.4 If customer is inappropriately dressed you may, depending on the situation, wish to afford the customer the option of getting dressed or alternatively re-scheduling the interview.

3.5 Notification of visit might, where applicable, include a request that dogs be restrained prior to your arrival. If an Inspector feels intimidated by a dog, it is perfectly all right to request that the dog be removed. Dog repellers are available upon request from H&S Unit. (It should be noted that in some cases dog repellers may further enrage dogs and therefore, should be used with caution).

3.6 Once inside it is advisable to keep the customer in front of you at all times while ensuring your exit is unimpeded. Ensure the customer leads the way up/down stairs.

3.7 It is important that claim/review papers relating to the interviewee alone be visible at time of interview.

3.8 Staff should remain alert to changes in customer moods, movements and expressions.

3.9 It may be necessary to politely cut an interview short and continue it in the presence of a witness or at a different time or venue.

3.10 Should the customer become aggressive/abusive try to remain calm and tactful and do not say or do anything that may aggravate the situation. He/she should be advised that the interview/meeting will be terminated if the abusive behaviour does not cease immediately.

3.11 When conducting a desk interview and the customers behaviour is unacceptable, their attention should be directed to the Department's 'Notice on Threatening Behaviour', where displayed. (See Appendix 1) Copies of this notice, if required, are available from Corporate Development.

3.12 It is advisable to keep comprehensive notes of those 'difficult' interviews and complete all reports of such cases as soon as practicable.

3.13 If threatened with physical violence one should terminate the interview and leave. If the situation warrants it the Inspector should contact the Garda (see also Section 5).

3.14 Inspectors should be aware that while, in the context of the extensive interaction between Inspectors and the public over many years, incidents of this nature, though rare, can occur, it is important therefore that such potentially difficult situations are avoided.

3.15 Inspectors should have no hesitation in removing themselves from a situation where they form the view that a serious risk to their safety or health exists. The primary responsibility of Inspectors is their own safety in such situations.

4. TRAINING

Interaction with the public - Where staff feel they could benefit from training in the area of dealing with the public, an appropriate training course to assist staff develop the necessary interpersonal skills should be arranged with SDU.

5. WHAT TO DO IF A PROBLEMATIC SITUATION OCCURS

5.1 If an incident is considered to be of a serious nature, it should be discussed with local management and the Garda notified immediately.

5.2 An Incident Report Form (see Appendix 2) should also be completed and forwarded with the manager's observations outlining the severity of the threat or abuse to: Security co-ordinator Niall Cahill (Cahill_N) and Health and Safety Unit Noel McDonagh (McDonagh_N) or (Callaghan_CA) as soon as possible after the incident. A copy should be retained locally.

5.3 Staff should be advised of the services of the Employment Assistance Officers: Margaret Fagan (Fagan_M) and Geraldine Carey (Carey_GE).

Appendix 1 OFFICE NOTICE ON THREATENING BEHAVIOUR

THIS NOTICE IS INTENDED TO HELP US TO HELP YOU

1. STAFF IN THIS OFFICE ARE HERE TO ASSIST YOU, THE CUSTOMER, TO CONDUCT YOUR BUSINESS IN A DIGNIFIED AND MANNERLY FASHION.

IF YOU HAVE DIFFICULTY IN THIS REGARD PLEASE LET US KNOW? HELP US TO HELP YOU.

2. AS A CUSTOMER YOU ARE EXPECTED TO TREAT STAFF IN THE MANNER IN WHICH YOU WISH TO BE TREATED, THAT IS, WITH COURTESY AND GOOD MANNERS. VERBAL ABUSE OR THREATS TO STAFF WILL NOT BE TOLERATED AND MAY RESULT IN THE GARDA BEING CONTACTED.

3. TO MINIMISE DELAYS IN DEALING WITH QUERIES ON CLAIMS IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT CUSTOMERS HAVE SUITABLE ID WHEN ATTENDING THE OFFICE ALONG WITH THEIR PPS NUMBER.

4. FOR BOTH STAFF AND CUSTOMER SECURITY, THIS OFFICE IS MONITORED BY CCTV CAMERAS.

Appendix 2 INCIDENT/ACCIDENT REPORT FORM

Incident/Accident Report Form

Name of Officer:....................................
Address :.................................................
Phone :..................................................
Location of Occurrence:.............................
Time/Date :............................
Circumstances of Incident...........................

 

Details of Notifier :................................
Name :...............................................
Section :............................................
Grade :..............................................
Witness (if available):.............................. (attach witness report)
Manager :............................................ (attach manager's report)


Last modified:07/07/2010
 

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