Training Consultant

Author Bio ▼

Nicole runs Worthwhile Training and has over 20 years experience assisting organisations with practical advice to manage the risks associated employee’s personal safety, security and wellbeing.  She works with organisations to design, implement and embed control measures and training solutions to achieve measurable results.
May 10, 2016

Get the SHP newsletter

Daily health and safety news, job alerts and resources

The PET model and its application for lone working

In an article for SHP, Nicole Vazquez, Worthwhile Training, gives a detailed explanation of the PET analysis and how it applies to the health and safety of lone workers.

Changes in the way we work has resulted in increasing numbers of lone workers within the UK. More are also working ‘away from base’ and this brings with it new and specific risks. For example: where lone workers interact with customers or the public they are more likely to be subjected to abuse, violence or aggression than those who work alongside colleagues.

Over recent years we have noticed a rise in the number of managers and health and safety professionals asking us for assistance completing risk assessments and engaging their lone workers in the risk management process. To deliver the required support, we created a simple and effective learning tool to help lone workers and those responsible for them, to identify concerns, assess and communicate the risks. This has become a popular tool for lone workers and over time has been further developed so that is can be part of a larger risk management system.

The PET analysis achieves the following:

  • It is a memorable training tool to help lone workers complete dynamic risks assessments and communicate their concerns. We ask lone workers to ‘Adopt a PET!’.
  • It encourages lone workers to take proactive measures to safeguard their own safety within agreed protocols.
  • As a risk assessment tool it assists managers to understand why the risks may occur and therefore complete robust risk assessments.
  • As it breaks down the elements as to ‘why’ the risk may occur it also helps identify the control measures.
  • It provides a common language for both managers and lone workers to understand the nature of the risk, improve communication, work together and input into the risk management process.

Since 2000, the PET model has been adopted by many organisations including several train operating companies, national house builders, social service departments and retailers.

How does it work? – Simply!

The PET analysis assists in identifying the three primary elements that contribute to personal safety and health and safety risks to lone workers.

  • People – Is there anything about either the people that the lone workers are coming into contact with or the lone workers themselves that might increase the risks to their safety?
  • Environment – Is there anything about the environment that might increase the risks to safety?
  • Task – What is it about the activity being carried out that might create risks for the lone worker?

Whatever activity you are assessing, each of the three elements helps to build a picture of the likelihood of an incident occurring and the severity of harm should an incident occur. Each element adds to the overall picture of the potential risks faced and because the PET analysis helps identify the factors that create the risks, it can also help to identify potential control measures. Depending on the nature of the activity being carried out, one of the elements may be more important and highlight more significant issues than the others.

Below are examples of some of the questions that you may ask, depending on the activity. Each question is linked to potential risks; it is by no means an exhaustive list but it gives a flavour for the kind of factors you may wish to consider.

 Watch Nicole define lone working and its challenges, including a look at the PET analysis in her first video for SHP Safety Talks



Are they…

  • total strangers/members of the public?
  • people with a history of violence, aggression or criminal activity?
  • people with drug, alcohol or mental health problems?
  • likely to welcome the presence of staff?
  • on their own or in larger groups?

 Case Study:

“Our lone workers predominantly work with people who have alcohol or drug issues. Most are known to us, but we do have self referrals and limited access to previous history. We have had incidents of aggression towards staff”.

The lone worker themselves can have an influence on the likelihood and/or severity of any incident occurring. Below is a list of questions that may be relevant depending on the activity:

  • What is their experience in the role?
  • How much relevant training have they had (and when)?
  • Does their age or gender have any bearing?
  • How confident are they?
  • Do they have any relevant medical issues that might contribute to the risk?
  • Are there any other issues that may affect their performance in the role or make them
    more vulnerable?

Case Study:

“Our lone workers are very experienced in the field and targeted training is repeated yearly”



Are they working…

  • in an busy area where there is open access to the public?
  • In a confined space?
  • working at height?
  • in a rural or isolated area?
  • going into someone else’s home or territory?
  • working out on the street amongst members of the public?
  • travelling by public transport/own car/on foot?
  • in an environment where alcohol is being drunk?
  • are they able to communicate with colleagues or call for back up if threatened?


Are they working…

  • during office hours when there are many people around?
  • late at night or early in the morning when they are more isolated?
  • during the hours of darkness which may alter both their perception and ability to respond to
    difficult situations?
  • how often do they keep in contact with colleagues?

Case Study:

“Our interaction with the client is in the clients home. We cover a rural part of the country where there are problems with mobile phone coverage. Our visits can take place anytime up until 8pm and at weekends. The worker drives to the visit”



Are they…

  • dealing with cash?
  • using machinery or tools?
  • in a security role or enforcing a rule?
  • assessing for or denying a service?
  • discussing sensitive issues/delivering bad news?
  • carrying valuables, equipment or medical supplies?

Case study:

“Our visits are normally to discuss support plans and offer support. On occasion we do offer emergency call outs when the client is in crisis”.

In the case study used, you can see how the PET analysis gives an understanding of the kinds of situations these particular lone workers may find themselves in:

“Lone workers may be driving to visit a client who is known to have drug or alcohol issues but with little other information, in the clients home, which is a rural area with unknown mobile phone coverage, up until around 8pm, to respond to an emergency call out for crisis support”.

The significant risks can be identified within the above scenario:

  • Potential for violence or aggression from client or other
  • Potential for road traffic collision

PET ModelYou can see how PET analysis has helped identify the potential concerns, but more importantly has identified them in such a way that we can start to add control measures to the story. Some examples of controls that may be put in place (depending on the level of risk and risk appetite of the organisation):

  • Requests from other agencies for information on the client and any known risks (where an Information Sharing Protocol is in place).
  • Working in pairs on crisis visits.
  • Providing a lone worker device that has a roaming SIM and GPS to give greater communication options and ways to call for assistance if needed.
  • Logging in and out procedure for the visit – and support protocol if the lone worker gets into difficulty
  • Regular driver training completed, cars maintenance records checked.
  • Limit on hours or mileage covered during one day.
  • Personal safety and conflict management training.
  • Permission given for the lone worker to abandon visit if they feel at all threatened.

Even with all this in place the lone worker would be encouraged to ‘Adopt a PET!’ and complete a dynamic risk assessment when they arrive at the property.

Case Study update:

When the lone worker arrives at the property…

P = there are unknown people and more people than was expected at property

E = the roaming SIM is not getting coverage, there is shouting coming from property

T = unable to offer crisis support safely or effectively

Using this system, they can report back to management their concerns in a format that is agreed, mutually understood and auditable. It is a protocol that trusts the lone worker to make judgements about their own safety.

You can see how the PET model fits into the Risk Management process in the diagram.

Some of the key benefits that have been reported by organisations and lone workers that use the tool include:

  • It recognises that lone working is not the only factor when assessing the risks.
  • It is a simple system that ensures managers consider the full picture when looking at lone working risks by highlighting some of the key factors in a particular activity.
  • It can help point towards relevant control measures.
  • It offers a simple way for the lone worker to have an input into the risk assessments.
  • It is a tool that can adopted in both formal and dynamic risk assessments.
  • Using the PET process lone workers can more confidently verbalise their concerns in a clear way. For example rather than just saying “I felt uncomfortable working on my own” they can replace this with “I don’t feel I am experienced (P) enough to go out on site (E) and repair the machinery (T) on my own”.
  • It is an ‘aide memoire’ that reminds lone workers to think about their safety when carrying out tasks.
  • It provides an agreed dynamic risk assessment ‘system’ to use that lone workers and managers understand and buy in to.

The PET model can be used in many different formats. We have devised, flowcharts, checklists and other aide memoirs. Wherever it is used, it is always much more successful when its introduction is complemented by training for both managers and lone workers. When implemented successfully the PET model, although simple, can become pivotal in controlling lone working risks.

Related Topics

Notify of

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Robert Kaiser
Robert Kaiser
7 years ago

Nicole is one of the most knowledgeable and passionate lone worker safety experts in this country. We have invited Nicole to speak at our annual LONE WORKER SAFETY Expo every single year since its creation back in 2010 and our delegates continue to request her participation.

Kevin Branfield
Kevin Branfield
7 years ago

Very informative and thought provoking. The PET model is something we at ATW will take on board and use where applicable throughout our business. We love the simplicity of the model which can be used by frontline staff and managers alike. Nicole is the upmost professional and always delivers first class engaging training. We have worked with Nicole for a number of years now, in which she has delivered several Conflict management courses as well as being invited to deliver safety related presentations and talks at a number or our conferences. Her knowledge and genuine enthusiasm for her specialist subjects… Read more »

Nicole Vazquez
Nicole Vazquez
7 years ago

Thanks for your comment Kevin. You’re right it is the simplicity and adaptability that makes the PET model so useful across organisations.

Mary-ann phillips
Mary-ann phillips
7 years ago

Very informative! I love how easy the PET model is to follow, simple enough for our clients to understand but complex enough to cover all the bases. Thanks Nicole.