Danone Nutricia and their Industry Leading Lone Working Policy

DanoneAn interview with Nutricia Early Life Nutrition Community Manager and Peoplesafe Personal Safety Champion, Sarah Ryan.

Danone has a clear focus on ensuring their employees are as safe as possible whilst at work. After evaluating the working tasks of lone workers, Danone recognised the potential for risk and investigated ways to reduce this. The evaluation led to several steps being taken. These included the implementation of lone worker devices and the roll-out of a new lone working policy.

Sarah Ryan is Community Manager at Danone Nutricia. Early Life Nutrition and has been at the forefront of the project from the beginning. She has been driving engagement among the wider team and involving as many people as possible. This led to a successful implementation of both policy and devices and is why we chose her as our Personal Safety Champion at the Suzy Lamplugh National Personal Safety Awards.

We caught up with Sarah right after her win to talk about lone worker solution implementation, policy and engaging others in the project…

Hi Sarah, congratulations on your win at the Suzy Lamplugh National Personal Safety Awards!

Thank you, I was absolutely delighted to have been nominated for the Peoplesafe Personal Safety Champion Award and it came as a great surprise to win. Danone is a very responsible employer, aware that personal safety makes sense both financially and morally. They have supported me right through our lone worker project and will continue to do so. It’s great to be recognised for the work the team and I have put into reducing the risks for our lone workers.

What are the risks for Danone lone workers?

I feel that lone working is getting riskier on the whole. Everything is being done at a higher speed nowadays. If people are in a hurry, they tend to let their guard down and are more exposed to risk.

Our clinical nurses come up against the usual risks associated with community nursing. Whilst nurses working in mental health or A&E departments are statistically more likely to be assaulted by patients, personal safety is still something that community nurses have to be very aware of whilst delivering care in patients’ homes. They are at risk travelling to and from and entering patient’s homes.

Our commitment to lone worker safety extends to the support we give to our field sales representatives. Many of them are female and spend nights travelling late, staying in hotels alone and meeting clients in public areas. No other company in our field of work provides such comprehensive protection.

Did you face any opposition to rolling out lone worker devices?

Admittedly it was a challenge in some cases. Certain employees have worked for the company for a long time with no incidents to report so it kind of confirmed their belief that there was no risk present and that they didn’t need a device.

Whenever We Spoke About Our Lone Working Policy, We Emphasised That It’s About Getting Them Home Safe And Well To Their Family And Friends!


How did you manage to get buy-in from those employees?

We helped them to recognise their risks as lone workers and make them aware of the changes to their roles which would involve them working more evenings, meeting health care professionals alone.

Peoplesafe do a lot of work around capturing and sharing near misses to educate them on potential risks. We also regularly do refresher training sessions to ensure they are fully confident with the lone working policy, devices and support systems. The more you share, discuss and bring up policy and personal safety, the more natural it feels.

What do you feel has made your lone worker safety project such a success?

We got everybody involved! A working group was created with a wide variety of people who tested suggestions with their peers and subsequently created a robust lone working policy with the health and safety manager.

We also created ‘peer champions’ who not only helped with training and support but who also acted as ambassadors and positive role models. It’s important to get involvement at all levels to demonstrate commitments to safety, the investment, and duty of care to your people.

How did the new lone worker policy and device roll-out go?

The device roll-out was great. After all of our employees had completed device training, we shared the lone worker policy and then had some fun asking the employees to create posters on what the policy meant to them.

It was a great way to bring it to life and also to see that they had recognised the importance of the policy and understood what was in it for them. Whenever we spoke about our lone working policy, we emphasised that it’s about getting them home safe and well to their family and friends!

Why is the lone worker policy so important?

It shows employees our commitment to their safety and how much they are valued. It also offers protection, security, and practical guidance around safe working.

Tell us a little bit about your lone working policy

The policy is simple: wear your device if lone working. The more complicated a guide is, the more confusing it gets, so we have kept it simple. All device holders have to complete lone worker personal safety training. Our guidance is to then use a Dynamic Risk Assessment prior to each call. We advise doing a status check on devices as they pull up at a call and then activate their alerts accordingly.

When we set up the policy initially, it was all about keeping it simple and allowing flexibility with the system to relate to various lone working roles. Through our policy, we have provided staff with the tools and training to empower them to control their own safety.

A good policy matches the culture and style of your people. It’s something that’s real, practical and that your people can relate to. We want our employees to feel the policy is theirs – not something that is being done to them.

Thank you, Sarah and congratulations again on your win!

Key takeaways from Danone’s approach to lone worker safety

Danone have clearly set themselves apart from others in the industry with their approach to lone  worker policy. Sarah attends meetings and events, speaking to other companies that operate in the same field. She is often surprised that no other companies have a comprehensive lone worker policy, let alone lone worker devices. It’s great to see one of our clients so dedicated and committed to the safety of their staff.

#1: A good, clear lone worker policy is vital and it must feel as though it’s a collaborative project.

#2: Getting a range of people involved in the project is important. From lone workers themselves to executives.

#3: A dedicated person to drive the project and keep the rest of the team enthused. A ‘Personal Safety Champion’.