Lone Workers - The Health and Safety Issues For Employers
Health and safety legislation applies just as much for lone workers and remote workers as they do for any other employee – whether they work alone at your business premises, out in the field or work from home. Before going any further, let’s take a look at exactly what is covered by the term “lone working” so that we’re clear about the issues involved.
Lone workers include home workers and remote workers – working practices that are increasingly commonplace as new technology enables workers to link to and communicate with their employers and colleagues located elsewhere. Those who work out in the field are also considered lone workers – this is true of delivery workers, repair workers, health workers, outreach workers, etc.
Any remote working environment holds challenges when it comes to supervision and continuous communication and it’s vital that those risks are identified as establishing a safe working environment for lone workers can be very different from organising the health and safety of other employees. However, lone workers should not be placed at more risk than other people who work for you as an employer.
Assessing any areas of risk should include issues such as manual handling, violence, the medical suitability of the individual to work alone and whether the workplace itself holds any risk to them. Some of the most important considerations to take into account include:
- Ensuring safe arrangements for lone workers – a risk assessment should identify if the lone worker can adequately control the risks of the job. There should be precautions in place for any “foreseeable risks” covering both normal work tasks and any emergencies which could arise such as a fire, sudden illness, equipment failure.
- Training for lone workers – lone workers should be adequately experienced to fully understand the risks and precautions required. If you’re considering installing technology solutions or PPE, then the lone workers must be trained in the appropriate use and response processes involved.
- Medical concerns of lone workers – check that any of your employees who are expected to work alone do not have a medical condition that could impact on their suitability for working alone. This includes any medical conditions that may require special risk mitigation such as an automatic alerting device. If necessary, seek medical advice on this issue.
- Supervision of lone workers; – any new employees may need supervision until they have achieved competencies in the tasks at hand. Supervisors should visit from time to time in order to observe the work being undertaken but it’s vital that management ensure that health and safety lone worker processes are being followed at all times.
In today’s Digital Age, technological solutions are increasingly available to ensure that the safety of lone workers is being met at all times and not just in cases of emergencies. There are a variety of emergency devices that can be used if employees find themselves at risk – these would raise the alarm at the touch of a button. With so many innovative solutions on offer, there is no excuse not to provide a safety system of work following industry best practice.