A Guide to Lone Working and Worker Safety
July 9, 2021
Working by yourself in remote locations presents several challenges, not just for yourself but for your employer as well. It’s estimated that approximately 20% of the UK workforce comprises ‘lone workers’, which equates to roughly 8 million people.
Lone workers work by themselves, without direct or close supervision, for extended periods of time.
Millions of people are required to work alone for quite some time every day, and it’s the employer’s responsibility to ensure they are taking appropriate and reasonable steps to ensure complete lone worker safety. This short guide explains why lone worker solutions are tremendously important for both the individual and the organisation.
What Does a Lone Worker Do?
Lone workers are responsible for carrying out various tasks and responsibilities by themselves without close or direct supervision.
Some examples of lone working professionals include:
- Delivery drivers
- Health workers
- Postal workers
- Security guards
- Warehouse staff
- Petrol station workers
- Construction workers
- Field technicians
- People working from home
The HSE states that the employing organisation must manage health and safety risks before allowing people to work from home.
This is particularly relevant for many organisations that have had to adapt to lockdown and home working measures following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Millions of employees became increasingly familiar with lone working, reduced capacities, staggered working patterns and hours, social distancing measures and much more. These employees frequently came into situations where they worked alone for extended periods.
Risks to Lone Workers
There are always risks to lone workers without supervision or anyone close by to assist if things go wrong.
These risks mainly affect lone workers in the UK:
- Workplace violence
- Medical issues preventing suitability to work alone
- Rural or isolated workplaces
- Mental health and wellbeing
Certain ‘high-risk’ lone working requires a minimum of one other person to be present.
This includes work in:
- Confined spaces
- Diving operations
- The vicinity of live electricity conductors
- Vehicles carrying explosives
How to Stay Safe as a Lone Worker
Like any worker, whether you’re working on a construction site or a quiet office, you must take care of your own health and safety. You must also take care of others who may be at risk by the work you carry out.
Lone worker safety involves co-operating with your colleagues and employers to help everyone meet their duties under the law.
Your employer has specific responsibilities to protect you as a lone worker, regardless of whether you’re working for them as freelancers, contractors, or self-employed. The same obligations apply to home workers, and the same liabilities for accidents or injuries apply as well. This means employers must provide supervision, education and thorough training while adding control measures to protect any home workers.
Here is a shortlist of ways to improve lone worker safety:
1. First, establish a clear lone worker policy.
Lone worker safety policies clearly outline procedures, processes and advice for all workers to follow in regards to working alone. This provides peace of mind and gives everyone clear directions of what to do should something go wrong.
2. Provide support to anyone who has experienced violence.
Lone working doesn’t necessarily mean a higher risk of violence, but it does make some lone workers more vulnerable. The impact of violence can lead to physical injury or work-related stress, and by extension, higher staff turnover, lower productivity and reputational damage. Employers should ensure there are measures in place to support anybody who has experienced violence. Workers should report the incidents, and employers should invest in personal safety training and conflict management training to help workers feel less at risk.
3. Put emergency procedures in place.
Working alone for long periods could make it challenging to get the proper support. Procedures that enable direct contact between workers and supervisors could help employers to recognise signs of stress, disconnect, isolation or abandonment, which can affect performance.
Also, a risk assessment may indicate a need for:
- Carrying first aid equipment
- First aid training, including how to administer first aid on themselves
- Immediate access to first aid facilities
Provide high-quality, reliable lone worker devices.
You should monitor your lone workers and keep in touch with them. Make sure they understand monitoring systems and safety devices they need to use in case of emergencies. This could range from personnel GPS tracking to devices for raising alarms.
Other recommended safety devices include:
5. Conduct lone worker safety training.
The best way to achieve the highest level of lone worker safety is to invest in thorough, bespoke safety training from accredited providers like Advanced Tactical Resources.
Lone Worker Safety Training Courses
We provide scenario-based training for all of our courses and can tailor each one to your exact requirements. In addition, we incorporate principles of situational awareness, personal security and more, to give you a truly bespoke training experience.