More than six million people in the UK work either in isolation or without direct supervision, often in places or circumstances that put them at potential risk. (source: BSIA)
The Health and Safety Executive defines lone working as those who work by themselves without close or direct supervision. This could include people such as those who work outside normal office hours: cleaners, security, night shift workers and service workers such as sales people, utility staff, estate agents and community nurses.
As an employer, you still have a legal obligation to consider the health and safety risks for lone workers along with those who are based in an office, factory or other working environment.
To help protect lone workers, as well as meet your legal duties, there are a number things you can do.
When completing a general risk assessment (which must be prepared in writing if you have five or more employees) take into account any lone working and the possible risks involved. If significant risks are identified, it is prudent to prepare a separate lone working risk assessment which specifically focuses on the key risks and the required control measures.
Risks to consider include:
Accidents such as slips, trips or falls and road traffic accidents.
Illness, pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes or asthma which can deteriorate rapidly, as well as general illness including fainting, losing consciousness or falling ill.
Personal safety and the risk of a verbal/physical attack.
Assessing the risks that lone workers face is an important step in complying with legislation, whilst demonstrating your duty of care.
The risk assessment is just one part of the process to ensure employees are sufficiently protected.
Lone Working Policy
Preparing a lone working policy can explain to employees the arrangements in place to protect them, and the responsibilities of both you as the employer and those employed, to ensure the risks identified are adequately managed. A policy also provides further evidence of your commitment to protect employees at risk.
Establish a Safe System of Work
Introduce a safe system of work to protect lone workers. Consider preparing an effective communications plan which includes methods of communicating, warning signals and systems, alarms and check-in procedures.
Training and medical suitability are also particularly important and need to be considered when establishing risk controls.
Remember to regularly review the risks and safe system of work to ensure all risks are adequately managed and controls remain valid and up to date.
If you need help or assistance when it comes to supporting your lone workers please do not hesitate to contact us : firstname.lastname@example.org