Lone Workers: Risks And Responsibilities

Some of the hardest and most hazardous tasks are held by lone workers. Lone workers suffer from a persistent fear of physical injury, and their lack of confidence in their safety can affect their performance, degree of involvement with the company, and rate of employee turnover.

Those who work alone without direct or close supervision are known as lone workers. They can be found in a variety of settings, including those of people who work at permanent facilities.

Why Are Lone Workers More At Risk

The biggest risk that separates lone workers from other workers is that they have no one to turn to if they become ill or injured. The lone worker might be unable to contact for assistance if they are critically hurt or knocked out. The likelihood of serious consequences or even death can increase if it takes a while for someone to discover something is wrong and go seeking them.

Risk Assessment And Responsibilities

Every organisation needs a lone worker policy to educate lone workers about the hazards of working alone and how risks will be controlled.

Your policy ought to: Use your risk assessment as a foundation

  • Describe your organisation's commitment to abiding by the law;
  • Describe who is covered by the policy (for instance, does your policy simply apply to those who leave the workplace to do home visits, or does it also apply to those who stay late at the office alone?).
  • Include the results of your risk analysis and the employee protection measures in place;
  • Determine who is responsible for seeing that the policy is executed, as well as their respective duties and responsibilities;

Measures To Minimise Risks For Lone Workers

The identified risks should be eliminated or minimised using the control methods recommended by the risk assessment. These preventive steps could be:

  • Whether via radio, telephone, or a mobile device, communication is crucial.
  • Periodic controlled inspections
  • Automatic warning systems, such as panic alarms, no movement alerts, and prerecorded message systems that are broadcast if an operator doesn't actively cancel them, etc.
  • Instruction and training in appropriate methods are provided, such as code words for potentially aggressive situations when used in conjunction with a mobile phone conversation.

Is Lone Working Legal?

Yes, working by yourself is legal, and for many employees, it's also safe. The HSE notes that working alone is frequently safe. However, before allowing anyone to do so, the law requires you to consider and address any health and safety issues.

Employers have a duty of care to ensure that their employees are "reasonably safe" and must take the necessary steps to meet this obligation. This includes independent contractors and other self-employed workers who perform services for your company. Despite the lack of a specific rule governing lone workers, general health and safety regulations must be followed:

Lone Working Training

To deal with the unique risks of working alone, lone working professionals may need additional training. Lone workers frequently have more difficulty obtaining assistance in an emergency when no coworkers are present. They must therefore be taught how to handle unforeseen and unplanned circumstances like harm or aggression.

Training is an essential step in protecting the safety of every employee, but it is especially crucial for those who work alone. Working alone means no coworkers nearby to identify a health and safety risk that might result in an accident or to lend a helping hand in an emergency. Lone employees must therefore be able to recognize and manage hazards.

Control Measures For Lone Workers

Working alone requires a risk analysis. Control measures to remove or reduce hazards should be determined by the risk assessment.

Among the control measures are:

  • Referrals and visit requests must come from an authorised source.
  • A control station where staff members record information about their solo working visits
  • When a client self-refers, a risk assessment must be done, and if at all possible, a coworker should accompany the lone worker. If there are known risks with a particular location or service user, the risk assessment should determine whether a home visit is appropriate or if a different location is required.

A worker in training or new to the position can require supervision. Site visits and checking on health and safety practices may be part of supervision.

The line manager and the lone worker must communicate frequently. This plays a crucial role in assuring the lone worker's safety. The risk assessment will determine the line manager's required level of supervision and how it will be delivered.


The Takeaway

Lone working is not an easy feat; for both the worker and the employer. With more and more people choosing to be lone workers, knowing the risks and responsibilities have become imperative.

When the right processes and solutions are in place, managing the safety of lone workers becomes simple – see how you can do this with SafetyIQ.


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