Some health and safety considerations on methods for managing the risk that could be associated with meeting a person for interview purposes :
- Meet in a public place during daylight hours
- Send two researchers
- Knowledge on the individual being met (to have confidence that the Researcher will not be at risk)
- Researcher having a means of communication with them e.g. panic alarm, pager set up to a base or mobile phone with contact numbers already programmed in
- Check in and out procedure with a 'buddy' and back-up process in place to follow if a check out message is not received
- Researchers trained in how to handle difficult or aggressive behaviour and how to diffuse or de-escalate awkward situations
- Researchers knowing where they are going beforehand, so that they do not get lost
- Researchers disguising any expensive equipment carried with them and choosing a sensible route to the proposed location
- Having an emergency plan in place - so that everyone involved knows what to do if there is a problem, who to contact and when, etc
As a Research Supervisor you should ensure that suitable measures are in place to manage the risk and that an emergency plan has been developed and that such methods are documented and persons connected with the work are aware of the instructions and methodology.
Additional health and safety issues that could arise may be directly related to the discussions being held with the member of the public. If the research and data gathering exercise, for example, requires Researchers having to work with one or more persons who have been involved in a very emotional situation, then the psychological impact that this could have on the Researchers themselves should not be overlooked. As a Supervisor it is important to know what signs to look out for and how to address this. Being prepared and planning the research thoroughly from the outset could not only support the Researcher but should ultimately help them to see the research through to a successful completion.