Health & Safety is a matter which all organisations need to prioritise highly. Employers can face costly fines for failing to take the safety of employees seriously enough.
Solicitors which previously regarded ‘lone worker safety’ as a minor topic now have whole teams which specialise in workplace incidents and provide apprehensive employees with a lot of support in bringing compensation claims against employers.
I spoke with a Glasgow solicitor who advised that her company wins most cases against employers within 5 minutes, by simply asking the question “How did you monitor the safety of your lone worker?”. If the reply is “Buddy System” or “We don’t monitor lone workers”, this demonstrates a ‘fingers crossed’ philosophy which is likely to lead to serious incidents being detected too late.
Recent research conducted by Percy Hughes & Roberts solicitors found that 38% of staff who had been involved in an incident at work were too scared to report it to their employer in case it was met with anger or non-action.
All employers have a duty of care to members of staff which means that if an incident occurs it is their responsibility to deal with it properly.
An employer is in breach of their duty of care if they fail to do everything that was reasonable in the circumstances to ensure the worker is safe.
Staff also have responsibilities for their own health/wellbeing at work and are entitled by law to withdraw their labour if a task is clearly not safe.
In particular, Lone Workers should approach tasks involving client home visits with caution and conduct a ‘mini’ risk assessment before entering a property.
Using ‘Lookout Call’ can be very helpful in this situation ~ the system may be set by the worker to call them periodically throughout an appointment to check they are safe and raise an alarm automatically should they fail to acknowledge a call.
It is important that staff are actively encouraged to report all potential safety hazards to help the employer to mitigate risk. There should be no culture of stigma being associated with the reporting of risks or incidents.
By using an automated system like ‘Lookout Call’ staff are better protected and employers are able to demonstrate how seriously their ‘duty of care’ obligations are being addressed.