Single Person Restraint – An Accident Waiting to Happen!
I regularly meet staff who have been taught to physically intervene on their own, who are totally unaware of the risks associated with the intervention or aware of the fact that what they are being asked to do is a lone working activity.
The usual excuse is that it is needed because the staff have to deal regularly with ‘exceptional circumstances’ that can’t be foreseen, but that in itself is a dichotomy and an oxymoron! How can it continually be exceptional if it is regularly happening?
One reason will be that the need to do so is driven by a lack of staff, but that in itself does not justify the need to put staff at risk.
In a document entitled “The Control of Children in the Public Care: Interpretation of the Children Act 1989 (S.S.I. 1997)”, Sir Herbert Laming (now Lord Laming) stated that: “Every effort should be made to secure the presence of other staff to ensure that any action taken is both safe and successful. It would be an error of judgement if a member of staff tried to restrain a young person without proper assistance and in so doing caused injury to himself or the young person because the intervention was handled ineptly.”
Even as far back as 1997 Lord Laming advised against single-person restraint.
And in a very recent BBC documentary entitled ‘Don’t Exclude Me’ a child was filmed being restrained by an adult using a single-person hold (a ‘basket hold’), even while other staff were available.
Interesting in the documentary the adult states that: “if a child become a danger to themselves or becomes a danger to those around them it’s important to risk assess the situation”. Then they go on to use a technique that if assessed for risk should not be used.
In the link to the article on the HSE’s website you can read about the life-changing injuries the member if staff received when he tried to deal with a situation on his own – https://press.hse.gov.uk/2021/06/22/private-security-firm-sentenced-after-employee-attacked-at-a-youth-offender-training-centre/?fbclid=IwAR231AFnfnVijyrfTP_30GEa80x7gY45VVaVF8bEZiSq2RBtiTjLpCq-z5c
In this case the member of staff received multiple injuries to his head and body and was taken to hospital by ambulance where he was put in an induced coma for three weeks.
He suffered brain damage and had a plate fitted in his skull.
He spent a further two months in a specialist brain injury rehabilitation centre.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that G4S Care and Justice Services (UK) Ltd failed to ensure robust procedures were put in place, to ensure that inexperienced staff were not working alone with groups of young people who presented a high risk of violence.
G4S Care and Justice Services (UK) Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) and Section 33(1)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. They were fined £250,000 and ordered to pay costs of £13,787.
And (just incase someone somewhere is missing the point), it is the organisation who are culpable and directly liable for any training they commission that allows such techniques to be taught to their staff on the expectation that staff should intervene on their own.
Yet today I can guarantee that somewhere in the UK staff will be being taught how to restrain on their own by some training providers without any risk assessment or training needs analysis in place but will believe that it must be safe to do so because the training provider holds certain certification that must prove that they know what they are talking about – NOT!
Make sure you do your due diligence before you choose a training provider.
To find out more about our BTEC Level 3 Restraint Instructor Award Course go to this webpage – https://nfps.info/physical-intervention-trainer-course/