Mobile or Lone Workers – Who is responsible?

Worldwide, employers have a common-law duty to take reasonable care of the safety of their employees.  In addition, many countries have statute law which imposes specific duties.  They also have government bodies with powers to regulate workplace safety issues.

It is estimated that across the globe over 6,000 people die every day from work-related accidents and diseases. Approximately 4% of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP) is also estimated to be lost due to direct and indirect costs, including compensation, medical expenses, property damage, lost earnings and replacement training.

The traditional workplace environment has changed significantly over the years with more than ever before, employees are operating in remote and isolated environments.  The introduction of technology, access to cheaper devices and the ability to be connected externally from a main office, means that this model of working independently will only increase.  In fact, a report undertaken by IDC predicts that by 2020, 73% of the workforce will be mobile.

This means that the obligations of maintaining a safe traditional workplace now extends beyond the office door or site gate.  

A growing number of countries have and continue to recognize the risks for workers operating independently and have adopted regulations that specifically address the safety of Ione workers. Examples include the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Spain and Australia.

So, what defines a mobile or lone worker?

A lone worker is an employee who performs an activity that is carried out in isolation from other workers without close or direct supervision. Lone workers often require special consideration by employers – they may be exposed to risk because there is no-one to assist them in an emergency.

Many businesses and organisations have established Ione worker policies, travel risk assessments, call in/out buddy systems, lone worker check in devices and a variety of panic alarm applications now available on mobiles.  It is a rapidly growing challenge for organizations to retain a centralized technology platform, that provides them with access to real time data associated with the safety of their mobile or lone workers.  

Effectively managing a mobile or lone working environment doesn’t have to be that complicated or expensive, but it certainly is a liability and major risk on so many levels if an adequate system is not in place.


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