With an estimated 8 million lone workers in the UK, it has never been more important that employees are adequately protected from dangers whilst working alone. Employers have a legal responsibility to protect lone workers and risk criminal prosecution for serious accidents that occur during working hours if suitable procedures aren’t in place.
With this in mind, here’s three ways that business owners can help to prevent lone worker accidents from happening
In order to protect lone workers properly the employer must carry out a comprehensive risk assessment which will identify any high-risk activities they might be involved in.
The main risks for lone workers can be divided into three categories:
Aggression and violence: both from people they encounter inside and outside of their company
Work-related risks: e.g. trips or accidents
Personal risks: from pre-existing health conditions, for example.
A risk assessment should identify any significant risks and describes how these risks will be minimised so that lone working can continue. Risk assessments help to identify whether supervision is required or whether any backup procedures need to be put in place.
If a risk assessment shows it is not safe to work alone, then an employer should not allow a lone worker to continue under any circumstances.
To assist lone workers in avoiding any compromising or dangerous situations as best they can, safety training should be given covering both prevention and response.
The findings identified in the risk assessment must be explained in detail to the lone worker so that they can fully grasp the risks and the precautions they need to take in order to avoid them.
Some key questions to cover in employee lone worker training include:
How does lone working increase risks?
What measures can be taken to reduce risks?
What should be done if things go wrong?
How can employee’s best utilise technology to reduce risks to safety?
Identify the amount of supervision needed
The level of monitoring required for each lone worker can differ greatly depending on the requirements of the job. The employer needs to consider whether the job is high or low risk and how competent the worker is at identifying and handling risky situations.
The level of supervision should also be decided by the results of the risk assessment. Necessary monitoring procedures should be put in place to help reduce risks.
Monitoring procedures include:
- Observation of lone workers that are new to the job to help determine how well they are coping
- Having pre-agreed intervals of contact between lone worker and supervisor
- Using lone worker technology such as ‘Lookout call’ to monitor staff movements and raise an alarm with nominated colleagues in the event of a lone worker being overdue from an appointment or in need of urgent assistance.