More than 50 per cent of estate agents do not have any safety policies or procedures in place for staff carrying out lone property viewings with potential buyers, a survey has revealed.

Despite all the firms that took part in the study confirming that their employees undertake lone viewings, 58 per cent of staff admitted to never receiving any specific lone worker or personal safety training.

The research was carried out by Yorkshire-based PPSS, a company specialising in workplace safety, after being contacted by a Rotherham property seller asking for guidance in this field.

The findings, for a 24 month period, also concluded that:

  • 30 per cent of the estate agents questioned had been the victims of verbal abuse
  • Almost a quarter felt their safety was being compromised
  • 53 per cent didn’t have a lone worker policy
  • 16 per cent had been intimidated
  • More than one in ten had been threatened while conducting viewings

PPSS managing director Robert Kaiser – who has advised a plethora of different organisations, ranging from Local Authorities to NHS Trusts and Housing Associations on how to keep their workforce safe – said: “When we first set about the research project I never thought the figures would show that more than half of estate agents don’t have safety polices in place.

“I’ll admit the results of the survey have come as quite a shock, particularly as most people will remember the disappearance of Suzie Lamplugh and the kidnap of Stephanie Slater, both estate agents.

“However, despite 100 per cent of those surveyed saying they and their staff met clients by themselves, less than half had ever received any safety training. I find that both shocking and disappointing.

“While there is no specific law dealing with lone working, all health and safety legislation applies equally to lone workers and in some cases, is even more applicable.

“Sadly, employers often forget their responsibilities to lone workers, particularly in respect of issues such as risk assessment. It is the employer’s duty to assess risks to lone workers and take steps to avoid or control risk where necessary.”

Robert added: “Polices are there to help and protect both employers and employees should anything untoward happen.

“With almost 25 per cent of respondents feeling their safety is being compromised, firms without polices in place should take an urgent look at their legal and civil requirements.”