8612. Personal Safety During Client Contact

Within the scope of their job duties, CA employees and volunteers will take precautions to prevent or avoid dangerous situations and property damage.

  1. Initial Personal Safety Risk Assessment
    1. Before making client contact, staff will make ongoing assessments of situations based on the nature of the allegation(s) or changing case characteristics and risk factors. The following are issues for social workers and supervisors to consider before making field visits:
      1. Are firearms or other weapons noted in the referral or record?
      2. Is there a previous history of domestic violence or other violent behavior towards others (this includes adults and youth)?
      3. Is there a history of criminal activity, mental illness, substance abuse, and ritualistic abuse or cult practices?
      4. Is the family's geographic location isolated or dangerous and is there cell phone coverage in that location?
      5. Is the contact scheduled after normal working hours?
      6. Are there aggressive animals on or near the premises?
      7. Is there a "danger to worker" notification screen on the referral?
      8. Is there lack of available information?
    2. If the initial assessment reveals possible risk to the staff person, the following could be considered as part of a safety plan:
      1. Call upon law enforcement and/or another staff person for accompaniment.
      2. Carry a cell phone.
      3. Use a state car rather than personal vehicle (or visa versa).
      4. Carry personal safety equipment, such as a whistle or personal alarm.
      5. Conduct a criminal history check before making contact.
      6. Consult with other informal sources, such as local law enforcement, previous social workers, collateral contacts, coworkers or colleagues from other agencies.
  2. Maintaining Safety
    1. Be aware of your surroundings and identify potential safety risks.
    2. Do not allow a client to get between you and the door.
    3. If you feel unsafe, end the visit and seek assistance. Leave immediately.
  3. After an Incident
    In spite of precautions, threats and other incidents may occur. Staff will immediately notify his/her supervisor, another supervisor in the office, or other person in the chain of command following an incident, such as assault, a threat of serious harm to staff and/or family members or property damage. The manager and/or supervisor or designee will:
    1. Provide the opportunity to debrief and offer counseling for staff involved in incidents.
    2. When warranted, report to law enforcement and request restraining orders for individuals and/or offices.
    3. Report the incident to the chain of command and a make a report in the Administrative Incident Reporting System (AIRS). Give the staff involved in the incident the opportunity to provide information so that all necessary details are included in the report. Provide a copy of the report to the Safety Committee representative.
    4. Note the circumstances in the SER and update the "danger to worker" person screen.
  4. Methamphetamine Labs
    1. Any staff who suspects he/she has entered an area where methamphetamine is manufactured will exit the residence and the property immediately and call 911 to request law enforcement response to address the safety of the children.
    2. Any staff person suspected of methamphetamine exposure should consult with his/her personal physician within two hours of exposure.