Local Government Safety News – March 2016

Have your frontline staff ever been abused, intimated or assaulted?

Verbal abuse, intimidation and threat of assault are a regular occurrence for many local government frontline staff. In a recent survey conducted for 150 parking officers and rangers, over 85% had received the verbal threat of physical abuse or assault. Over 50% had been on the receiving end of physical abuse or intimidating behaviour.

We believe that your people are your most valuable asset, and they are worth protecting!

Since 1997, we have trained over 15,000 staff in Dealing Professionally with Aggressive Behaviour, with outstanding results in building confidence and morale, as well as assault prevention.

‘I liked how the course was customised to include relevant situations. Now I know strength is not important to feel safe, which allows me to be calm and confident.’ ~ Community Safety Officer, Parramatta City Council, October 2014

It’s not only parking officers and rangers who are abused and threatened, this behaviour is also experienced by staff working in libraries, cleaning, environmental health, planning & development, pools & recreation centres, and customer service.

High risk areas

Across all councils we work with, certain locations are a higher risk, and one of these is building sites. Risks include the potential for threat with a weapon and multiple aggressors. Tempers can flare over any form of enforcement, including permits, fines, and directions to rectify or stop work. Other risk areas include private residences, pubs, clubs, isolated and confined spaces, and special events with large crowds.

Stalking

Simply being in uniform, or driving a marked vehicle can pose a risk for council workers. Especially for those who work outdoors, stalking is a real threat where officers face unpredictable, revenge-motivated behaviour that may have nothing to do with them, but may be directed against council or authority in general. Dealing with people who are mentally unstable, drug and alcohol affected increases the risk of assault. During a routine patrol, an urban council ranger was informed by a woman in a burka that a ranger would be found beheaded soon.
This kind of threat creates fear and uncertainty for the thousands of council workers who are providing a valuable community service in their daily work. The cost of abuse and aggression is reflected in growing stress claims, which far outweigh those for physical injury.

Value of effective training

The highest cost of training is usually the wages component and replacing the workers who are being trained. Therefore training time must be used wisely and councils should carefully choose training that will deliver real and lasting results for their staff.

Karen Armstrong - Director, Safety StrategiesWhat is your plan for 2016 to protect your most valuable asset – the safety of your staff?

Please call me on 0408 615 559 to discuss a customised set of safety skills we can show your team.

Karen Armstrong
Safety Strategies