Lone Working; How do we manage the safety of these workers?
As more and more businesses allow flexible working, there are more lone workers in the UK than ever before.
As the name suggests, lone workers are anyone who works alone. This can be for part of their job or all of their job. Common lone working activities include car park attendants, night cashiers, security staff, drivers, and maintenance workers. However, these are not the only people we should consider. There are also those who travel alone to attend meetings, the worker who stays late every evening, estate agents and home workers amongst others, who need to be considered and accounted for.
When managing the safety of lone workers, they should be included as part of your risk assessment. Some of the hazards that may be faced by lone workers include violence from members of the public, sudden illness and accidents or emergencies arising out of the work, including inadequate provision of first aid.
So how do we best manage lone working? After identifying the potential hazards to lone workers and assessing the risk, suitable and sufficient control measures need to be put into place to mitigate the risks. Such control measures could include:
- Travel plans with agreed call in times, such that if the lone worker doesn’t call in, the alarm is raised and help is sent.
- Issue of mobile phone, telephone or radio to keep lines of communication open.
- Controlled periodic checks via phone or if the lone worker is on site, these checks can be in person.
- Automatic warning devices, e.g. panic alarms, no movement alarms, automatic distress message systems, i.e. pre-recorded message sent if not actively cancelled by operative, etc.
- Using key words for potentially violent situations so that the lone worker can call for help without raising the suspicion of the aggressor.
- Provision of first-aid kits and training
- Implementing safe systems of work
- The use of locking devices and security screens to lock and secure the place of work segregating the lone worker from potential hazards, such as violent behaviour from the public.
- implementing correct incident reporting procedures
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Health surveillance to monitor the health of the employee – both their physical, but also mental health.
- Where lone workers may be dealing with violent or aggressive behaviour, the provision of counselling should be made available.
Lastly, it is imperative that whatever control measures are chosen, training is given to all staff. Training and communication between the worker and the employer are the key to ensuring lone workers remain safe. Workers need to inform their employer when they are about to perform lone working, and employers need to act to ensure safe systems of work are in place for the lone worker.
If you need help with your managing the safety of your lone workers, or any part of your health and safety management system, contact us to find out how we can help you: firstname.lastname@example.org or 01843 6399711.