Keeping employees safe has to be a top priority for any employer. While many companies are only too aware of the requirements for ensuring safety in the workplace, one issue which perhaps gets less attention is keeping people safe when they’re travelling or working in the dark.

This becomes a more pressing issue in October because the clocks go back one hour on Sunday 30th October. That difference means that many of us will find ourselves travelling home, going to meetings, doing site recces or visiting customers in the darkness of later afternoon.

Here at the VOW To Guide we’ve looked at risks faced by after-dark workers before, but essentially these can include motor or personal accidents, road rage, theft or attacks by other people, all of which we’re more vulnerable to without the protection of daylight.

There are some simple common sense tips that employers should give workers out and about after dark. Some of these behavioural and others practical:

Safety in numbers

Consider car sharing schemes that not only help to reduce traffic and ease car parking pressures, but mean people can see each other leave and arrive at home safe and sound. If there is more than one person travelling to an appointment then suggest that they travel together.

Conceal those devices

Although many of us like to take a look at our phones when we’re walking along, conspicuous use of smartphones or tablets can make us more of a target for muggers. Ensure employees are keeping devices out of sight when they are on the move, ideally concealed in a zipped bag or case. That includes laptops or tablets. To avoid the risk of losing confidential data in the event of theft ensure laptop locks are used and phones and other devices are passcode protected.

Stay alert

Instinct and common sense is all important, particularly when we are in unfamiliar or darker environments. If you feel uncomfortable approaching someone or a group of people then change direction. Walk with confidence and without being confrontational, eye-contact can be a good way of showing a potential mugger that you are not a pushover.

Mix up routines

If it is possible for employees to mix their routines so that there is no clear way for anyone unauthorised to recognise or anticipate their daily movements, then all the better. Use a variety of journeys and try to change the times that people need to arrive or leave at particular locations.

Brighten workwear

If people are required to regularly travel after dark then consider giving them high visibility vests in the event their car breaks down, or if they have to walk in the dark in the course of their duties. If these clothes are required for their job anyway then employers have to provide it free of charge, keep it clean and make sure that employees fully understand when, where and why they need to wear it.

Shed some light

Torches that fix to keyrings or can be kept in a bag or case are a useful protection. If people are given items that depend on batteries then make sure they have a supply of spare batteries.

Make some noise

Personal alarms are available that can be fixed to keyrings, bags or cases. While these are often associated with the protection of women, they could be an invaluable resource for anyone needing to scare off attackers.

For more details on protective workwear and equipment from VOW please contact your VOW account manager or visit www.voweurope.com

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