Reducing the Risks for Lone Workers
Businesses in the UK that employ lone workers have some additional responsibilities when it comes to duty of care. It’s no longer enough to get an update on where they’re supposed to be and the odd phone call to confirm this. Organisations or managers with responsibility for lone workers need to demonstrate a relevant duty of care and protection towards their employees, including those who are field based, on the road, work in the community, carry out home visits or work outside normal hours. There are currently more than 4 million lone workers in the UK and employers are legally bound to ensure that these workers are protected within the duty of care legislation guidelines.
While you cannot guarantee the personal safety of every single employee at all times, there are things that can be done to reduce the potential for them to suffer emotional or physical harm as a result of the behaviour of others. The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) definition of harm is as follows:
“Any incident in which an individual suffers verbal abuse, physical assault or threats in circumstances related to their work.”
There are several issues that mean that lone workers are particularly at risk:
- Lack of daily supervision
- Lack of daily contact with colleagues
- Lack of immediate help and support
- No access to a hub computer system
- No available incident report forms
- Lack of or poor mobile phone signal
- Arrive or leave work premises alone
- No secure office or safe room
- Challenging client groups
- Weekend and night time working hours
Lone worker personal safety training is a great way of training staff to become more aware of the issues and dangers that may arise when they work alone and an effective company policy on lone working will help to address some of these issues. As an employer, there are actions that you can take to reduce the risk for lone workers and make a real difference to their health and well-being whilst at work.
· Involve your staff in the risk assessment process.
· Ensure that your company policy is clear, concise and effectively communicated to every member of staff.
· Make sure that any procedures and personal protective equipment (PPE) are fit for purpose and suitable for all staff that have the potential to experience personal safety risks.
· Make sure that all line managers are fully aware of their responsibility to monitor staff and maintain effective safety standards.
· Create open lines of communication between staff, managers and health and safety personnel to ensure that there’s a rapid response when concerns are raised.
· Encourage a culture of sharing information, create buddy systems and innovate in order to reduce risk.
· Listen to your workforce – act when you can and explain when you can’t.
For those who employ lone workers, the use of mobile and vehicle tracking solutions can deliver vital information that will enable the employer to demonstrate that they are providing effective duty of care