Lone worker protection is ever so vital these days with companies suffering heavy fines and even custodial sentences for not implementing a robust lone working policy. In this blog we would like to cover some important questions like; what exactly is lone working? What are the risks associated with working alone and how to identify lone workers within your organisation?
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), ‘Lone workers are those who work by themselves without close or direct supervision’. Lone working is definitely NOT illegal and is usually safe to carry out work on your own, following the passing of a risk assessment based upon a robust lone working policy. However, getting immediate assistance or help could be difficult if you had an accident or suffered an injury while working alone.
We highlight some examples of lone working below:
- Example 1: Lisa works as a night receptionist for a leading hotel chain. She is asked to call a particular number in case of any emergency. A group of drunk people walked in and started to verbally harass Lisa and threatened her. She was unable to call the emergency number as it would have been too obvious and could have worsen the situation. They eventually left her in piece but she had to suffer the whole ordeal in fear.
- Example 2: John is a delivery driver and usually drives from site to site delivering goods. As a delivery driver he is also responsible of some lifting and carrying of heavy goods. He is a low risk lone worker due to his job role and rarely deals with the general public. John is concerned that he won’t be able to provide his accurate location to his line manager if he was to have an accident while working.
- Example 3: Dave works for a Plumbing Distributor as a Warehouse Manager. He works within the warehouse, preparing all the deliveries as and when it comes through the sales office upstairs. As he was preparing a recent delivery in the warehouse a large object overturned and collapsed on top of him, leaving him seriously injured. He couldn’t move and tried shouting but to no avail. Help only arrived as an external driver came to pick up delivery and found him lying exhausted.
The examples highlighted above are normal job roles that we see from day to day, however the potential risks they face could seriously affect the health, safety and well-being of these employees. By conducting lone worker risk assessments, an employer would be able to correctly identify the different types of risks associated with a particular role. Here at Peoplesafe, we categorise lone workers into 3 main groups:
Lisa, the receptionist is a perfect example of a public-facing lone worker. She deals with the general public on a day to day basis and would need a lone worker protection device that is very discreet to use, like the Identicom or MicroGuard from Peoplesafe. This allows her to raise an alarm without raising any suspicion or endanger her own safety.
Meanwhile, John the delivery driver from example two, would fall under the category of a mobile lone worker as he drives to multiple sites in a day. Solutions like the Smartphone app, Identicom or MicroGuard could all be useful for John as it can be used to raise an alarm immediately if he ever runs into an incident or an accident. The GPS enabled devices would also be able to provide accurate location of John to his line manager.
Finally Dave in example 3 is a fixed-site lone worker, because as a warehouse manager he works alone at the same location with little contact with the general public. He would benefit from the MicroGuard device as it will help him to raise an alarm with a simple press of the button in an emergency. The MicroGuard also has an optional Man Down feature which would raise an alarm automatically if the user slips, trips or falls unconscious.
The categories are not strictly unique to each job role, a particular job role could fall into multiple categories too, this is why it’s important to run individual risk assessment to correctly identify the risks associated with each job role. Along with the above scenarios there are also some general risks affecting the safety of employees while working alone and some of these are:
- Sudden illnesses
- Unforeseen accidents
- Theft or intruders
- Driving related incidents
- Unprovoked verbal abuse or threats
If you would like to find out more information regarding the risks of lone working and how to implement a robust lone worker policy then please contact us at 0800 990 3563 or email firstname.lastname@example.org