Lone Working: Everything an Employer Needs to Know

Book on lone working

Our comprehensive guide to lone working provides straightforward advice for anyone who employs lone workers. It has been split into the following sections:

(Click on the above links to quickly access to the relevant section.)

 

What is lone working?

It is estimated that up to 8 million people in the United Kingdom are lone workers. That’s 22% of the 31.2m UK working population.

Lone working is defined by the Health and Safety Executive as those who work by themselves without close or direct supervision. This doesn’t mean that the worker is physically alone, it means they are in a separate location to the rest of their team or manager. Some workers may be alone such as fixed location workers, however, many work with the general public.

Statistics from the British Crime Survey have indicated that as many as 150 lone workers are attacked every day. The victims of attacks are varied and take place across a number of industries and job roles where people can be found working alone. This statistic includes both physical and verbal attacks.

This number may seem high, but with as many as 46% of the UK workforce in full-time employment counting themselves as lone workers, the number of workers at risk every day is clear and the importance of knowing how to be safe when working alone is underlined.

 

Is Lone Working Legal?

Yes. But as an employer, you still have a legal obligation to carefully consider health and safety risks.

Just because an employee isn’t in sight doesn’t mean their safety isn’t a priority. It is even more so. This also extends to contractors and self-employed people doing work for your business.

There are a number of things you should do to help better protect your lone workers and comply with both moral and legal obligations;

 

Lone Working Policy

This is a practical guide that your employees can apply to their roles.

An effective lone worker policy can help to promote a strong safety culture among employees and reduce the risk of legal issues.

The key to a strong policy is to consider the potential risks that lone working employees face and offer best-practice guidance.

Your lone working policy should include risks (by job role or lone worker type), key definitions, background information and purpose statement, your organisational commitment, clearly-defined responsibilities, guidance on reporting incidents, plus any relevant support and contact details.

We’ve created a step-by-step document to help you to create/update your own lone working policy. Just remember that this isn’t a simple “cut and paste” exercise. Your policy should be unique to your organisation.  Download Example Policy 

 

 

What Type of Jobs Involve Lone Working?

Here are some of the most common types of lone workers and the industries they work in;

Housing. This includes estate agents, sales personnel in show homes and people who work for housing associations such as neighbourhood officers.

Social & Health. Community nurses, GP’s, social workers and probation officers. Lone workers in these groups will likely visit people in their homes.

Homeworkers. Many different types of people work from their homes such as writers, sales people or the self-employed.

Transport & Logistics. The most obvious type of lone worker is drivers, but warehouse and unloading staff often work alone.

Construction. Site workers, managers, surveyors and inspectors.

Out of hours work. People who work outside the usual working hours such as security people or cleaners.

Utilities. Our water, gas and electricity companies employee lone workers such as meter readers and maintenance staff.

 

How do personal safety systems work?

Providing personal safety devices is one of the most effective ways of protecting lone workers and is the first choice for many employers.

There are many different types of safety products available to suit different types of workers – including mobile phone apps, discreet devices disguised as ID tags, hand-held satellite systems and other wearable technology.

Most of these solutions use an amber/red alert system, which allows users to raise the alarm should something happen. All information is transmitted to an Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC), which is manned by trained operators 24/7. Here’s a brief animation explaining the Peoplesafe service…

 

 

 

Features

Many lone worker safety devices provide Amber Alert, Red Alert and Man Down functionality. Here’s a brief overview of each feature…

 

What happens when an alert is raised?

The following three real-life examples demonstrate exactly what happens when an alert is raised…

 

 

Protecting lone workers

It is your duty as an employer to take every reasonable precaution to ensure the safety of your lone workers.

Lone workers are vulnerable in many ways. As an employer, you are obligated to have measures in place to mitigate risks. This includes:

  • Accidents – From slips, trips and falls to work-related injuries and road accidents
  • Illness – What happens if you faint, lose consciousness, or suddenly feel very ill, alone?
  • Attack – No-one likes to think about it, but when you’re on your own, it’s a risk

One of the most well-known cases around the risks of lone working is that of Suzy Lamplugh, the estate agent who disappeared in 1986 when she went alone to show someone around a house. To this day no-one knows what happened, and a charity, The Suzy Lamplugh Trust, was set up to help people develop skills and strategies for keeping themselves safe. Suzy’s case is extreme, but it does highlight the need to be protected.

To learn more about the ways you can better protect your lone workers, please get in touch.