No Room for Lone Worker Complacency

Warning Stripes

The evidence that lone working is a potentially dangerous activity was forcibly made clear in events that passed through the courts at the end of 2014.

In this blog, we explore these cases and the steps you can take to improve safety.

Lone Working staff are regularly exposed to a certain amount of risk, however, without adequate support or processes in place, regular exposure to risk greatly increases the potential for incidents to be catastrophic when they occur. This unnecessary risk can ultimately lead to tragedy.

Tragic Accidents

A scan of recent news articles can really begin to bring this home. Examples concluded in court during late 2014 have included a maintenance worker found dead in an estate boiler room in Barnet after a fall from height and a lone worker killed in Middlesbrough after his all-terrain vehicle overturned.

The conclusion of both investigations was that not only (and most importantly) was there a tragic loss of life, but that both of these cases illustrated a pattern of complacency where steps could have been taken to better protect the lone workers in question. It is very easy for companies to say ‘it won’t happen to us’ and push health and safety into the background, but these feelings soon turn to regret once an incident occurs. The organisations involved were ordered to pay significant costs and damages that reflected the serious nature of the incidents.

Tip of the Iceberg

Our 10 years of lone worker monitoring experience have shown us that these high-profile incidents are just the tip of the iceberg. Each week the Peoplesafe monitoring centre deals with a high volume of calls where lone workers indicate they are at risk. Often these incidents are classified as ‘near misses’ where something more serious was close to developing, whereas others develop all the way through to the requirement for an emergency police response.

Any of these potentially dangerous situations could have quickly escalated to become one of the more serious incidents seen in the previously highlighted stories and this is where the Peoplesafe service can come in to help. Every day we process Red Alert calls from lone workers safely and efficiently, offering them assistance and support when they most need it whilst offering the best possible safety devices for working alone backed up by an industry-leading NSI Gold Approved service.

It’s in Their Hands

To our clients and their staff, the need for a high-quality safety service is more important than ever. The system provided by Peoplesafe is in the hands of your staff! It’s there available to be used whenever they need it. If usage rates are low then we can provide training to reinforce the ideas of working safely alone. Our team are always available to address the needs and questions of lone workers to improve safety all round.

What Next?

Incidents such as those seen in Barnet and Middlesbrough illustrate the worst that can happen when there are multiple failures in a lone working policy and these are just the stories that make the headlines. Each day there are many more incidents that do not reach the news but where lone workers are harmed or put at great risk in potentially preventable incidents which could escalate into something worse, why take the risk?

Complacency and the idea that ‘it will never happen to me’ are not valid excuses and can put the safety and well-being of lone workers at risk. Taking the time to draw up an effective lone worker policy is extremely important and staff having a clear understanding of the procedure during an incident can make all the difference. This proactive approach from more organisations would see a safer 2015 for lone workers, something that we at Peoplesafe would love to see become reality.