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Protecting workers safety during civil unrest

Protecting workers safety during civil unrest

26 August 2011 Email this article


The British Safety Council is urging businesses across England to take sensible precautions to ensure that workers are kept safe and secure during any outbreak of public disorder, such as the recent street disturbances.


Many business premises were attacked, looted and in some circumstances set on fire over several days and employers need to be mindful of their duty of care towards employees. Certain employees are particularly vulnerable during outbreaks of unrest or unexpected events such as those that have arisen in recent days.

“It is a wonder to me that no worker was seriously injured as shops, homes, vehicles, police stations and warehouses were attacked and in some cases set alight,” said Alex Botha, chief executive of the British Safety Council in a message issued to the organisation’s members. In the communication he extends his and the organisation’s support to those members affected by these troubled times.

He goes on to state: “Shift, lone, evening and night workers are of course of particular concern at times such as these but we need to consider the safety of all workers and risk can be mitigated by following sensible precautions.”

Contained in the message was a series of points to consider during the unrest to help employers and employees to deal with unforeseen circumstances. The message urges calm and factual communication to inform and avoid alarm, such as making evacuation procedures known; precautions to consider for lone and shift workers, like clearing external equipment, flammable liquids, rubble and debris; and what to do if the worst does happen are your business is attacked.

The Carphone Warehouse, which is a member of the British Safety Council, saw some of its outlets attacked. “We can confirm that a number of our stores have been damaged in the riots and whilst this is very frustrating, thankfully none of our team members were present and therefore not hurt,” said their CEO Andrew Harrison. “We’ve taken all appropriate measures to first and foremost protect the safety and well-being of our people and where possible safe-guard our stores and our ability to keep trading.”

“Our sympathies are with the small businesses and people whose homes and property have been badly damaged within the local communities,” he added.

Botha adds: “These points are not exhaustive, but at the very least, they should help employers and their workers deal with any unforeseen events if they occur over the coming days, although I know we all hope that it remains quiet and we can return to normal business.”

British Safety Council