It was the mid-eighties and the last Monday in July when 25-year-old British estate agent, Suzy Lamplugh, notoriously went missing in Fulham, London.
Her last known whereabouts was showing someone around a property during the middle of the day. Leaving the office and taking just her keys and purse with her, she was seen waiting outside the property and it was the last time anyone saw her.
To this day she has not been found. Sadly, she was declared dead and presumed murdered in 1994 after an extensive investigation and the killer is still unknown.
Whilst this is one of the most notorious cases of the last 30+ years, it’s by no means the only one where agents have been vulnerable and attacked in lone working circumstances.
At Dalcour Maclaren, our teams are often working alone on rural or urban land and properties. We go to great lengths to ensure that our staff are clear about the risks of lone working.
We urge everyone who might work alone – male or female – to read and share this advice wherever they can.
What are some of the hazards?
- Road traffic accidents or injuries
- Farming or contractors’ plant or machinery
- Slips, trips and falls
- Insects, livestock and domestic animals
- Exposure to the elements
- Inadequate provision of rest, hygiene and welfare facilities
- Violence from members of the public or being held against one’s will
- Sudden illness
Where might you encounter risks?
- Within the company’s offices (working late)
- When visiting another organisation
- When visiting a member of the public
- When conducting site surveys in urban and rural locations
- When travelling
Below is Suzy’s Code for Personal Safety – a useful guide to ensure you are kept safe and avoid all the risks of lone working.
- Implement a buddy system (so colleagues always know each other’s whereabouts and contact details. This should include checking in and out when arriving at and leaving a property, including out of normal office hours)
- Have a system in place for colleagues to raise the alarm back at the office in case of an emergency while working alone
- Have a clear procedure to follow if someone does not return or check in when they are expected
- Arrange for people to visit your office before meeting them alone so that colleagues have also seen them
- Offer staff a personal safety alarm and have discreet lone worker devices available (Dalcour Maclaren uses SkyGuard)
- Before visiting premises, find out who else will be present (tenants, contractors etc.)
- Make sure all staff are aware of and have access to the personal safety measures available
- Finally, implement a secret phrase to raise an alarm subtly.
You can find out more about the Suzy Lamplugh trust here