Any staff who work alone or without direct supervision for some or all of their working day are inherently at greater risk than those who work in groups or under constant supervision. Lone workers exist in every industry and sector, but the risks they face can vary considerably. Employers have an obligation to ensure the safety of their workers, including lone workers.
Below are some simple steps that any employer can take to improve their staff’s safety if they have to work alone.
Identify the risks
Every work environment is different. There is no one size fits all approach to protecting lone workers because lone workers in different businesses face different risks. Lone workers encompass everyone from retail staff operating the shop on their own to contractors who meet with clients off-site on their own.
Employers are responsible for identifying any risks to their staff’s health and safety and providing them with the appropriate training and supervision. Any business with lone workers should have specific policies in place to protect them (HSE, ‘Protecting lone workers’, 2021).
Create a lone working policy
Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1984, employers have a legal duty to ensure their employees’ health, safety and well-being as far as reasonably possible. If your staff often have to work alone, your workplace health and safety policy should include a section on lone working. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (1999) recognises lone working as a potential risk for employees.
The most effective lone working policies are simple to understand and regularly updated. You shouldn’t create a complex policy just to try and cover yourself legally. The policy you share with your staff needs to be clear, easy to understand, and realistic. It should also be written in consultation with the staff most affected by it. Ask your workers what measures they would like you to take as their employer to protect their safety while they’re working alone.
Invest in a personal safety app
There is now a range of personal safety technologies available that can significantly enhance lone workers’ safety while carrying out their duties. For example, many businesses offer employees personal alarms if they regularly have to walk to their cars or homes alone after work. Remember, as an employer; you have a legal obligation to consider the safety of your staff. If your workers often work alone, you need to factor this into your company health and safety policies and procedures.
Zecure is a very effective personal safety app that enhances the safety of lone workers in several ways. After activating the app, workers can raise the alarm while automatically recording audio and video evidence of any incidents that make them feel unsafe. Zecure is a SaaS product that businesses access for a monthly fee. As well as protecting lone workers, Zecure can form part of a broader risk mitigation strategy for any business where staff may be isolated or at risk.
A clear and robust lone-working policy will ensure all your staff are aware of the potential risks of working on their own and know what measures are in place to protect them. There are numerous simple and affordable technologies available that can make a big difference to your staff’s safety and alleviate the anxiety that many workers feel when they are working solo.
HSE, Protecting lone workers (2021), https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg73.pdf