Council's new safety guide for staff will include what to do with dogs that growl or snarl

PUBLISHED: 13:59 12 April 2010 | UPDATED: 09:37 02 June 2010

Revised guidelines

Revised guidelines

By John Elworthy A REVISED guide for 700 employees of Fenland District Council will explain how to handle customers who incite their dog to growl or snarl The new guide also warns about removing paper knives and scissors if faced with a potential aggr

By John Elworthy

A REVISED guide for 700 employees of Fenland District Council will explain how to handle customers who "incite their dog to growl or snarl" The new guide also warns about removing paper knives and scissors if faced with a "potential aggressor".

The council's staff committee is expected to agree the revised 'violence and aggression at work' policy on Monday which has been drawn up by health and safety manager David Vincent.

He believes there may be instances when a person will encourage their dog to behave aggressively towards a council employee.

"For example, whilst carrying out an interview, a person may incite their dog to growl and snarl, therefore creating a possible threat," he says.

"In such instances employees should ask the person concerned to remove the dog to another area.

"If they refuse, then speed up the interview without creating conflict and then arrange an alternative meeting, insisting that it takes place without the presence of the dog!"

Mr Vincent's safety tips for receptionists includes warning them that waiting times should be kept to a minimum.

"People who are already angry will become more so if further irritated by a long wait," he says.

He also suggests that during interviews "employees should be seated between the user and the door to maintain a clear escape path if required."

Employees should also put "some sizeable object" such as a table between them and the potential aggressor and ensure there are no convenient missiles/weapons to hand such as heavy ashtrays, pictures, paper knives or scissors.

Mr Vincent also reminds staff they have the right in law to use reasonable force to protect themselves, to protect others and to protect property.

But he insists they can only use the minimum force necessary and should "never meet violence with violence.

"If the choice is between being hit, hitting your attacker or withdrawing then you should withdraw".

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