Tips for When Your Employees or Colleagues are Working Alone

April 18, 2023
Two pairs of hands clasped together.

CPI Certified Instructors have a responsibility to teach any segment of the programme in a relevant fashion for specific types of employees and groups.

Some employees may regularly, occasionally, or suddenly work alone. Lone worker safety is vital, so Instructors should craft examples and challenge participants to consider various concepts and skills relevant to many types of problematic behavior when working alone.

The simplicity of the concepts and skills makes them powerful. Most concepts and skills are directly applicable to situations in which employees may be working alone. These include:

Recall the CPI Crisis Development ModelSM in any crisis situation. This model provides a simple set of guidelines to help organise our thinking and guide our decisions and actions whether working alone or with a team. Remember that:

  • When someone is expressing anxiety – support them.
  • When someone is being defensive – direct them, always keeping respect, service, and safety in mind.
  • If a situation escalates – take a step back physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Remember the CPI Supportive StanceSM.
  • Remain calm and make a plan.
  • When communicating with an individual in crisis (or others involved in specific situations) keep directives simple and clear.
  • When directing an individual in crisis (or others involved in specific situations) always communicate respectfully, even when being firm and directive.

Physically Violent Situations

If anyone escalates toward violence, initiate your organisation’s violence response procedures. Remember CPI’s Four Priorities of Violence Response Procedures:

  • Keep yourself safe and attend to any immediate safety concerns. We can’t help others if we are hurt or in danger ourselves. Employees need to keep themselves as safe as possible so that they are in a better position to help others.
  • Assess the situation. Take a step back and try to remain as calm as possible. Attempt to quickly evaluate the circumstances. Consider the number of people involved, their physical size, and the type and number of possible of weapons. Keep in mind that many common objects are potential weapons. Determine the immediacy of any dangerous factors involved in this situation. Make a quick determination of severity level.
  • Summon assistance. Summon appropriate assistance to get help on the scene quickly and efficiently. Invoke your organisation’s Violence Response Procedures.
  • Make the environment as safe as possible. As much as possible, direct onlookers away.  Try to remove or reduce accessibility to potential weapons. Isolate the area so nobody wanders into the situation inadvertently. If warranted, practical, and safe, evacuate the building or area closest to the incident.

Violence Involving Weapons

If an actual, potential, or perceived weapon is involved in a violent incident, follow your organisation's Policies and Procedures for situations involving weapons. If supported by these policies and procedures, keep the following tips in mind: 

  • Avoid reaching for the weapon. Attempting to disarm a person with a weapon is extremely dangerous.
  • Focus on the individual. When threatened, we tend to focus on the weapon. Shifting your focus to the individual will remind you that the real danger is not in the weapon itself, but in the aggressor’s behaviour.
  • Negotiate. Communicate simple, clear, and reasonable requests in an attempt to solicit affirmative responses (e.g., “May I sit down?” or “Do you mind if I take a deep breath?”) The more the aggressor responds affirmatively, the less likely they are to engage the weapon.
  • Step back. Try to negotiate permission to take at least three steps away from the individual. If allowed, the increased distance can reduce both anxiety and weapon accuracy if it is engaged.
  • Buy time. Time is an asset. The longer you can talk to an aggressive individual, the less likely they are to engage the weapon.

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