Lone worker definition
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) defines lone workers as “those who work by themselves without close or direct supervision”.
What legislation exists?
Important legislation relating to lone workers in the UK includes:
The Health & Safety At Work 1974
This legislation covers employer duty to ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees including stating requirements for safe systems of work, health and safety policies, and safe working environments.
The Management of Health & Safety At Work Regulations 1999
This legislation details the approach to managing risks to employees.
The Workplace (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations 1992
This legislation covers welfare issues for employees.
The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases & Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995
This legislation details the recording and reporting of accidents at work.
The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007
This Act clarifies the criminal liabilities of companies including large organisations where serious failures in the management of health and safety result in a fatality.
How do you manage the risks?
The starting point with managing any risks is a robust risk assessment process. This an ongoing process covering the identification of risks, assessment and evaluation of the risks identified, implementing measures to eliminate or minimise the risks identified, monitoring the effectiveness of those measures, and then continuously repeating the cycle.
This should lead into an over-arching lone worker policy, which can then be taken by individual teams/departments/staff to create local level lone worker procedures.
Risks to consider for lone workers include:
Are staff based at fixed sites and are there any areas of heightened risk on those sites (for example isolated areas, traffic flow on site, restrict staff areas). Are staff mobile or field based and do they start and end the working day from a site or home? Maybe you have staff that are both site based and mobile depending on the tasks they have on any particular day.
Areas to consider include methods of travel (car or public transport), length of time travelling, where travelling to and from, times of day spent travelling?
Tasks to be performed
Work at heights, working on machinery, providing care, enforcement roles, what safety equipment is necessary, what equipment is necessary to perform the tasks, what training is needed to perform the task?
Public facing roles
Will staff face aggression from other people and potential conflict situations?
Sudden illness and emergencies
Can staff raise the call for help if they fall ill?
Working hours (outside normal hours?)
Working normal hours or out of hours, what support is available in normal working hours and outside working hours
What risks are there?
Whilst most risks can be identified pre-emptively, lone workers especially need to be able to perform ‘dynamic risk assessments’ where they make operational decisions based on the risks which cannot be foreseen.
From the perspective of managing lone working staff, key questions to ask include:
- Do I know where my staff are now?
- Do I know what tasks my staff are performing now?
- How do I know my staff have got home safely at the end of the working day?
- How can my staff communicate quickly and effectively if they find themselves in difficulty?
- What Are The Benefits Of Investing In Staff Safety?
What Are The Benefits Of Investing In Staff Safety?
Aside from ensuring compliance with the legislative requirements, investing in staff safety delivers the following benefits:
- Staff recruitment and retention.
- Staff feeling safe and confident when performing the day to day duties.
- Staff feeling valued and improved wellbeing, helping maximise productivity
Organisations are also mitigating against costs associated with not complying with legislation:
- HSE fines
- Criminal prosecutions
- Brand damage and negative publicity
- Staff turnover