What Is A Lone Worker?

The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) definition of a lone worker is someone who “work[s] by themselves without close or direct supervision”. This broad definition can include any employee who spends time in an office on their own, travelling between meetings, or even working at home or, for example, in a café – either regularly or on the odd occasion.

In fact, the Office of National Statistics estimates that there are nearly 6 million lone workers in the UK. Many of these individuals work in conditions that expose them to personal danger from work-related violence or verbal abuse, accidents, serious illness or injury. And due to the fact that they are on their own this puts them at a greater risk should the worst happen.

What does this mean for employers?

As an employer, you have a legal and moral Duty of Care to your employees to protect them from unnecessary risk. If one of your employees suffers harm at work as a consequence of doing their job, you could end up in court. And if it can be proven that the systems you employ aren’t up to the job of protecting your lone working employees, you may be in breach of numerous pieces of Health and Safety legislation. This could have disastrous consequences.

Before even considering the cost of fines and litigation, the HSE estimates that it can cost between £17,000 and £19,000 on average just to investigate a physical assault. It can cost a lot less to prevent one. If an incident does occur, the courts will take the resources available to an organisation into consideration – the Sentencing Council guidelines state that a Corporate Manslaughter fine can be up to £20 million. But it is no defence for an employer to say that they did not have the time, money or resources to reduce risk. There is the possibility of courts imposing publicity orders which can tarnish reputations, and in the worst cases, prison sentences for seniors managers found to be negligent.

Major companies convicted of corporate manslaughter will face fines of up to £20m under new sentencing guidelines.

Legislation affecting employers:

  • The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
  • The Health & Safety Offences Act 2008
  • The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
  • The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007

These are only the general laws affecting organisations – in addition, there are whole host of supplementary Health and Safety regulations which apply to specific industries, workplace environments and types of job activity. 

Click on the links to find out about Corporate Manslaughter ActThe Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations and Health and Safety Offences Act specifics.

If you think anything detailed in them or inferred by them applies to you and your employees . . .

Peoplesafe can help

Peoplesafe’s lone worker personal safety service can help fulfil your Duty of Care to your employees. We don’t just protect lone workers and employees at risk, we help protect employers from potential ruinous litigation, too. What’s more, it’s proven to help increase morale and staff confidence knowing that if they need assistance fast, there is a highly trained professional there at all times to assist them in any emergency.

Peoplesafe takes a holistic approach to lone worker safety, by offering a range of training and consultancy services designed to complement and maximise the effectiveness of our service.

Naturally, every Peoplesafe client receives introductory training and ongoing support in setting-up their account and using the service. In addition to this, we can also offer bespoke training and consultancy solutions tailored to each organisation’s particular requirements. Our panel of advisors can assist with Risk Assessments, Business Case Development for Lone Worker Services, Policy and Procedure review, and even Conflict Resolution training, if required.

Learn more about how our service works and the solutions we offer to utilise the service, or contact us to find out how we help.