What is a lone worker?
According to the Health & Safety Executive, the meaning of lone worker is simply an employee who “performs tasks or works in isolation from other workers without close or direct supervision”.
With around 8 million lone workers in the UK and working alone named one of the top ten hazards of concern to employees, employers must place high importance on assessing and mitigating the risks they face.
At risk employees
With an increasing number of organisations offering flexible working practices, there are more at-risk employees than ever before.
At-risk employees can be simply defined as employees who work at a heightened risk; for example, individuals who carry around expensive equipment or bank employees who hold sensitive information. They may not work alone, but are still at risk of being attacked once they leave the workplace.
What can you do to protect your lone workers?
Monitor them during periods of working alone – Have a lone worker policy in place which outlines how often lone workers should be checking in, with phones, radios, email or other dedicated devices. Consider whether the risks they face in working alone warrant the need for an alarm.
Carry out regular tests of these systems and procedures so you can make sure they’re working as they should and your colleagues understand their obligations.
Schedule regular training and supervision sessions so that your lone workers are confident in what they need to do to ensure their safety when working alone.
This might mean not carrying out certain activities, such as working outdoors in high winds, or drawing on specific training to manage voilent situations.
If your lone worker’s first language is not English, consider that they workplace culture in their country might be different, and ensure they fully understand how to work safely in your organisation.
How does a lone worker solution work?
A lone worker solution is a communication sysem designed with specific features to keep a lone worker out of harms way. It’s typically made up of three components:
- The mechanism – the device or application used to summon assistance, such as a lone worker app, pebble device alarm, or portable panic button.
- The online portal – where all activity can be viewed and tracked
- The control room or Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC) – from where assistance is deployed. ARC’s which are BS8484 accredited are able to summon a level 1 priority Police response if necessary.
Laws around lone working
Here’s a summary of the acts & regulations which are relevant to lone worker obligations:
Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HASAWA) is the primary piece of UK health and safety legislation. It requires employers to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all of their employees as well as others on their premises.
The main requirements of this Act are:
- The safe operation and maintenance of the working environment, plant and systems
- Maintenance of safe access and egress to the workplace
- Safe use, handling and storage of dangerous substances
- Adequate training of staff
- Adequate welfare provisions for staff at work
Management of Health & Safety At Work 1999
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 requires employers to assess and manage risks to their employees and others as a result of any work activities. Employees also have duties under this act to take reasonable care, use equipment as trained and report any shortcomings in health and safety protocol.
The employers’ duties to ensure a safe working environment are:
Establish procedures that should be followed in an emergency situation
Provide adequate training and information for employees
Provide health and safety surveillance where appropriate
Appoint appropriate people to assist in the above measures
Ensure employees aren’t given tasks beyond their competence and physical capabilities
Health & Safety (Offences) 2008
The Health and Safety (Offences) Act 2008, lays out the maximum penalties that can be made against defendants under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
The Act gives lower courts the power to impose fines and/or imprisonment for the following health and safety offences:
- Breaches of general duties under HASAWA Sections 2 – 8
- Non-compliance with an improvement notice, a prohibition notice or a court order
- Making a false statement or entry in a register
- Breaches of general duties under HASAWA Section 9
- Obstructing or pretending to be an Inspector
Corporate Manslaughter & Homicide Act 2007
The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 clarifies the criminal liabilities of organisations where failures in health and safety management have resulted in a fatality. This means that organisations can be found guilty of corporate manslaughter as a result of how activities are managed and organised by senior management.
The organisations to which this legislation applies are:
- A corporation
- A department or other body
- A police force
- A partnership
- A trade union or employer’s association that is an employer