Job Design Priorities When Employing Lone Workers

  • Posted on: 26 January 2015
  • By: interactive

Lone workers are on the increase here in the UK as more and more business systems are streamlined in order to reduce operational costs.  Lone workers work by themselves without any direct supervision and are considered a particularly vulnerable group of workers.  While employers are required by law to identify and deal with any health and safety risks before allowing people to work alone on their premises, there is still a certain level of risk in lone working that come with the very nature of the job.  Back in September, we published an article on factors for lone workers (and their employers) to take into consideration and promised to cover each topic in more detail in the future, so here goes.

Today we’ll take a look at Job Design.  Job design is the process of determining the contents of the job in terms of its responsibilities and duties, the methods used to carry out the job in terms of techniques, systems and procedures, and on the relationships that should exist between the job holder and his superiors and colleagues. 

Paying attention to job design means taking an in-dep0th look at the working environment and any training which can be provided to prevent and limit risks. 

Communication is a key issue here and employees should be feel free to take part in open and honest discussions and their input is a key component of job design for lone workers – after all, they are the people who are experiencing working alone and will often have some valuable insights to share with the employer or manager who is ultimately responsible for their health and safety in the workplace.  Any job design exercise should include the following:


Lone workers should be encouraged to regularly assess the situation they are in and any risks to which they are exposed.   Here are some common risks that should be considered:

  • Slips and Trips – ensure that hazards such as loose or torn floor coverings, trailing cables, etc. receive attention immediately.
  • Fire/Emergency – ensure that you have had appropriate fire safety training and that you are familiar with emergency procedures.
  • Electrical Accident - make sure that all PAT tested items have a Pass label and regularly perform visual checks for damage.


For certain tasks it will be necessary for a supervisor or “buddy” to be present to ensure the safety of employees:

  • Hazardous Materials, Items and Equipment – if possible, make sure that tasks involving hazardous items or materials are undertaken when there is a supervisor or “buddy” present.
  • Manual Handling – it’s vital that lone workers are not expected to move any load that is likely to present a risk single handed.


Any organisation employing lone workers will need to apply stricter criteria during the recruitment process to ensure that candidates are suited to working alone.


Personal Medical Conditions – employers should ask prospective lone workers about any medical conditions that could make lone working inappropriate.