Lone Working Risk Assessment Guide
Lone working is not against the law, however, the law does require you to carry out a risk assessment.
A separate lone working risk assessment is especially important because lone workers are often more vulnerable than someone who, for example, works in a busy office.
Risk or Hazard?
A hazard is a physical thing that causes harm. This could be dangerous chemicals, electricity or work at height. In the case of lone workers, it could be an intruder or the sudden onset of illness.
Risk is the likeliness of somebody being harmed by one of the hazards. Is there a low, medium or high chance? There should also be an indication of how serious the harm could be to an individual.
General Risk Assessments
The risk assessment process is not about creating huge amounts of paperwork; it is about identifying risks and taking proportionate measures to control them. A risk assessment doesn’t need to be carried out by a health and safety expert either. A confident manager or team leader can do the assessment.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) introduced a five-step approach to controlling risks in the workplace. Here’s a brief overview…
Identify any possible hazards by examining the nature of the job; the type of clients the employee may encounter; place, location and time; the views of the staff; and recent incident reports.
Next, think about which staff employees might be harmed. What type of injury or ill health might occur?
Remember, given the nature of many public-facing lone working roles, violence, hostage taking or false imprisonment are all possible risks.
You must decide whether the existing precautions are adequate or more should be done? Are risks low or acceptable? Are there systems in place to eliminate or reduce risk, and do you have clear risk assessments?
Do your staff have skills in defusing situations? Do you have a lone working policy in place? Find out if there is a clear audit trail to ensure colleagues know the whereabouts of an employee in the event of non-return. Finally, assess the suitability of existing personal safety devices.
Record your findings and implement them. Compile your research and complete the risk assessment. Design an action plan based on this information and communicate to all employees.
It is important to keep your action plan up to date. So, ensure to review the plan regularly (at least once a year), updating an implementing any changes.
You can find risk assessment examples on the HSE website, which you can use as a basis to create your own lone worker risk assessment.
Lone Working Risk Assessment
Assessing the risks that your lone workers face is an important step in complying with legislation, whilst demonstrating your duty of care. The HSE don’t provide an example that specifically deals with lone worker hazards, so you need to create your own.
The risk assessment is a key part of the lone worker picture. But to sufficiently protect employees, you need to be able to put together an actionable plan, a lone worker policy and provide specific training and communications.