Are you always the last person to leave the office? Accidents have the potential to happen in any job, whether you work in a shop, factory, office or warehouse. In fact between 2015/16, around 621,000 workers suffered a non-fatal injury at work. And no matter what kind of office you work in, you could be injured in a workplace accident. Being the last person to leave the office may mean you’re working hard, but it can also put you in a position where you are more at risk of being injured in an accident – and left with nobody around to help if this happens to you. So what can you do to minimise your risk of being injured in an office accident if you’re the last person to leave the office each night? Accident Advice Helpline has gathered together our top 5 safety tips.
- Keep your keys on you – We have lost track of the amount of times we’ve heard stories of people being locked in buildings overnight. If you are the named key holder for your office or department, make sure you take your keys with you at all times (even when you take a bathroom break) so that you don’t become locked in the building – or locked out of the building without access to your mobile phone, money and so on.
- Keep your wits about you – If you are the last person to leave the office then you need to think about your personal safety. What kind of area do you work in? Is it a known crime hotspot? Keep an eye out for any suspicious activity around the office or the local area towards the end of your shift; if you can it’s also a good idea to check the news. If you feel unsafe at any time, you should report this to whoever is on call. HSE publishes guidelines on lone working which point out the importance of training for anybody working alone – this includes ensuring that you understand the risks and how to take the necessary precautions to stay safe.
- Try to stick together – It’s not always possible, but if you’re the last person to leave the office then try to find a colleague in the building to exit with. Avoid being alone and walking in unlit areas wherever you can, and don’t forget to lock up and make sure the building is secure. If you are working alone at night or are the last to leave, make sure that doors and windows are closed whilst you are at work to stay safe.
- Lock it up – Don’t forget to check that all doors are locked and that electrical equipment such as photocopiers, printers and computers are turned off before you leave your desk for the night. This helps to prevent illegal entry by unwanted visitors and also electrical fires.
- Know your co-workers – There will usually be somebody on call if you are working alone or the last person to leave the office. Make sure you know who your point of contact is in the event of an accident or emergency when you’re working alone. If there are security staff on site, let them know you will be working alone or the last to leave the office – and maybe even ask them if they would escort you safely out of the building and across the car park, if it is dark.
What can your employer do to protect you?
Employers are ultimately responsible for your safety whilst you’re at work – but what happens if you have a slip or trip in the office alone and nobody knows about it? Some companies are already taking steps to protect their workers, in fact, one company in the US has invested in personal safety devices for lone workers. Although these can cost up to $3,000 per person, the devices include emergency alerts and GPS technology that help to reduce the number of accidents for lone workers. There are cheaper ways for employers to protect you too though.
Ensuring that you have received the training you need to carry out your job safely as the last person to leave the office and that you know the procedure in the event of a fire or other emergency at work reduces the risk of a serious incident or accident occurring. If you have been injured and you feel that your employer could have done more to keep you safe, you could be entitled to claim compensation with Accident Advice Helpline.
Working on the front line
One of the most common roles to find yourself working in alone at night (or being the last to leave the office, in some cases) is the role of receptionist or front-desk staff. Ultimately, you’re the first point of contact when it comes to office safety and security, signing for parcels and keeping out unwanted visitors. If you are working alone at night on a front desk, you should ensure that you feel safe to do so and your employer should take steps to keep you safe. This could include things like hiring security staff or ensuring that another member of staff is in the building, in case you need help.
Claiming compensation as the last person to leave the office
Whether you have been injured after a slip, trip or fall (the single most common cause of accidents in UK workplaces) or an emergency situation has occurred at work that you couldn’t handle alone, you may be eligible to claim personal injury compensation with Accident Advice Helpline. We’ll need to prove that your employer could have done more to prevent your accident from happening, and to do this, we’ll need to look into exactly what happened to cause your accident.
You can call us on 0800 689 5659, to find out more about making a personal injury claim, and there’s absolutely no obligation to proceed with a claim at any point. If you do decide to go ahead, our personal injury lawyers work on a no win no fee basis, so claiming is affordable regardless of your circumstances.