ARLA Propertymark is asking agent members to ensure the safety of lone workers in branches and on viewings.
A statement from the association says: “Lone workers are those who work without close or direct supervision and employers have a duty to assess procedures in place to protect staff, taking steps to avoid or control risks where necessary. This is particularly the case for agents who may be conducting property viewings with clients.”
The association says it’s always best practice for agents not to advertise they are working from home; they should initiate a ‘buddy’ system so someone is aware of what remote colleagues are doing.
“Another good practice is to arrange for a colleague to ring a staff member who may be meeting a new client for a viewing 10 minutes into the meeting to make sure they’re OK, agreeing a code word for them to use if they are in trouble” says ARLA.
The guidance also suggests having a system in branches for staff to be able to raise the alarm, secretly if necessary, with all colleagues able to identify the alert and knowing what to do in response.
On lone property viewings, it says: “Ahead of any meeting, employers should consider using a tracing system to be aware of where employees are at all times. Risk assessments to identify any risks related to the people, environment, or tasks must also be carried out.
“When agents are entering a property, they should familiarise themselves with the exits in case they feel threatened, making sure they know how doors open if they need to leave quickly.
“It is advisable to tell staff to conduct their own risk assessments and to trust their instincts and leave if they feel uncomfortable or are unsure. When the client arrives, the meeting should be kept to time and not overrun, particularly if there is a long gap between this meeting and the next.”
Propertymark says the Suzy Lamplugh Trust - carrying on work for lone employees in the name of the estate agent who went missing, presumed murdered 35 years ago - has published guidance enabling employers to keep their staff safe. You can see that guidance on the trust website here.
The association also promoted the Hollie Guard app, allowing agents to notify colleagues if they are in trouble. You can see details of the app here.