Lone Worker Safety Hazards (Situational Awareness Advice)
Last Updated: August 8, 2023
Many organisations in the UK require certain employees to perform activities or duties without direct supervision or accompaniment. This is known as lone working, encompassing daily tasks for approximately 8-9 million people in the UK.
Lone worker employers must, by law, establish and maintain a clear and structured lone worker policy to protect their employees. In terms of personal safety and security, lone working individuals are more in danger than those accompanied by management.
Thus, organisations must adopt and implement lone worker safety best practices. This starts by being aware of the safety hazards and risks lone workers often face.
Situational Awareness and Lone Working
Whether a corporate travelling professional or a journalist working in hostile environments - or anyone in between - lone workers are faced with risks daily. Many people aren’t even aware of half of them, most likely.
To have any hope of avoiding injuries - accidental or otherwise - lone workers should first adopt situational awareness when working. The arbitrary meaning of situational awareness is being completely aware of your surroundings, and training yourself to naturally and instinctively spot potential or looming dangers from your current position.
Situational awareness training involves providing individuals with the thought processes, mental models, mechanisms and the ability to anticipate and prepare for an incident. Situation awareness is less focused on our reactions and more on how we can improve our safety by spotting the absence of the normal and the presence of the abnormal.
Principles of situational awareness can be applied when training delegates to improve their safety while travelling, working abroad, and even in everyday situations. Wherever you are, if travelling or working alone, studying, remembering and practising the levels of situational awareness can be a difference-maker in how you respond to emergencies, stay safe and avoid risks. It’s also vital to maintain situation awareness, which training will teach you to do.
Female Situational Awareness Training
In response to the public outcry for women’s safety and protection following the Sarah Everard case in London (amongst many others), Advanced Tactical Resources offer women’s situational awareness courses. Women are prone to violent attacks from men, as seen in this notable case. Our structured model of situational awareness courses can give you the physical and mental skills needed to feel safer. Our trainers are well-versed in training delegates in conflict management, self-defence, close protection and personal safety.
Most Common Lone Worker Safety Risks
The most common injuries suffered by lone workers include (though are not explicitly limited to) the following:
- Slips, trips and falls
- Handling, carrying or lifting
- Being struck by moving objects
- Acts of violence
Lone Worker Risk Mitigation
Lone working professionals face similar risks to many colleagues in the same industry as them, albeit without direct supervision or the presence of someone on-hand to assist when there is danger nearby. Therefore, the injury risk of lone workers is higher.
Identifying and mitigating common slipping hazards would involve revisiting the 6 factors of the Slip Prevention Model and reminding employees of obstructions based on the 3 Trip Potential Model factors and whether environmental factors can exacerbate the risks of slips, trips or falls.
Manual handling, lifting and carrying can lead to immediate injuries or long-term musculoskeletal problems. It is imperative to ensure that correct posture and machinery is used correctly (if necessary) to prevent injuries to lone workers.
According to HSE reports, approximately 700 cases of lone workers being struck by moving objects are reported each year, with approximately 14% of these resulting in major injuries. The best practice is to ensure proper storage for sharp objects, designated routes for equipment to move items (and all have good visibility), and secure and stable shelving.
As far as acts of violence are concerned, the HSE defines an act of violence as any incident in which a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances related to their work.
The most at-risk lone workers for acts of violence include anyone engaging in:
- Personal care
- Delivery and collection
- Representing authority
- Providing security
- Cash transactions
General Lone Worker Safety Tips
Lone workers have a higher risk of injury due to being isolated in their working environment. Hence, they require a substantial lone working policy alongside an employment Health & Safety policy.
Here are some final tips for employers to protect lone workers:
- Equip them with lone worker safety devices and alarms
- Ensure equipment is safe and regularly tested
- Provide best-in-class safety equipment
- Where possible, avoid assigning sole workers for hard manual labour
- Provide sufficient lone worker safety training
Situational Awareness Training Courses
For thorough lone worker training using situational awareness, consider our professional, scenario-based training courses. Contact us for more information.