An effective lone working policy contributes to the safety of your lone workers and provides guidance for working alone. Attempting to understand the risks to employee safety is an important step in complying with health and safety regulations, whilst demonstrating your duty of care.
- The importance of a lone working policy
- Gathering risk information for your policy
- Tips on structuring your lone working policy
- What to include in your lone working policy
- Lone working policy example
(Click on the above links to jump to the relevant section)
Although not a legal requirement, an effective policy can help to promote a strong safety culture among employees, keeping them safe and reducing the risk of legal issues.
Your lone working policy should be a document that is accessible and easy to understand. Lone workers and their managers should be familiar with the document and its location. Issue a copy to new employees who will work alone and to any contractors or temporary workers you use.
The key to a strong lone working policy is to consider the potential risks that lone workers face and offer best-practice guidance. This will give lone workers the freedom to make informed decisions about their safety. Here are some effective methods to gather information about potential risks:
- Focus groups with employees
- Surveys and questionnaires
- Observe staff in their working environment
- Analyse previous incidents
- Formal auditing
Your business may already have a standard policy template so you won’t have to start from scratch. Here are a few things to remember when creating your lone working policy:
- The style should match other policies within your organisation
- Write in clear, concise language and in the third person
- Don’t include words that imply choice, such as “should” and “may”
- Do not use information that will date, such as names or web addresses
- Spell out words the first time, then show the acronym in parentheses, e.g., Lone Worker (LW)
Add specific risk situations and how to handle them. Break down risks by job roles, lone worker type or department if your organisation has different risks that aren’t applicable to all lone workers.
Include what a lone worker is and what your organisation views as lone working. These will make it clear who the policy is written for and in what situations it applies. Here is an example definition of lone working;
“Any situation or location in which someone works without a colleague nearby; or when someone is working out of sight or earshot of another colleague.”
Purpose & Background
Provide rationale for the policy, with background information such as why the policy exists, how it relates to your organisation’s values and how it will help protect lone workers.
Your lone working policy provides a great opportunity to let employees know how much your company cares about their safety. Your organisation may already have an overall safety commitment – you could use this or write a specific one for lone workers. Here is an example of an organisational commitment to safety from well-known car manufacturer, Ford;
“Our most valuable asset is our people. Nothing is more important than their safety and well-being. Our co-workers and families rely on this commitment. There can be no compromise.”
The policy needs to be clear on who is responsible for what, including employees themselves. For example, employees need to take reasonable care of their own personal safety, including not putting themselves into a situation which could compromise their safety.
Managers are responsible for completing a lone working risk assessment and reporting incidents in the correct manner. Include information on lone worker devices too–e.g.; who is managing usage (managers) and what employees are responsible for (making sure their devices are charged etc.).
It needs to be clear to whom an employee should report incidents. Whether it is through a formal logging system or as simple as telling the correct person and filling out a form. Reporting lone worker incidents is important, as it can often present an opportunity to learn or uncover a new risk.
Help & Support
Make sure you include information on who employees can contact if they have concerns about their personal safety. Name and provide contact details for external agencies, charities or a union too.
Download our example lone working policy to get a better idea what should be included in your own. Please remember that this isn’t a copy and paste exercise. Your policy should be unique to your organisation.