This blog, written by Patrick Dealtry, will discuss what is meant by good health at work and the challenges for lone workers in maintaining good health at work.
Maintaining good health at work for a lone worker is different than for those who work in their employer’s premises where the employer controls their working environment. For a start, the lone worker may also be a home worker or home-based. Here, the challenges to good health may be more those of self-motivation and isolation from colleagues.
When in the employers' premises, colleagues may detect health problems before the individual who may also be tempted to conceal them if on their own much of the time. Managers should be aware of such issues and be on the lookout for indications that all may not be well. Also, home workers are likely to be sitting in front of a computer for hours at a time and be prone to eye ache and neck tension.
What does good health at work mean?
From an organisation’s point of view, there are many benefits from a healthy workplace including better productivity, happier employees, reduced absence and a general feeling of wellness. Employees will have more energy.
For a lone worker, achieving such a state will be more difficult. Providing attractive colour schemes and lots of plants does not apply. For any employee, having sufficient exercise and healthy eating are important but a staff canteen with proper food and a company gym are not relevant for lone workers. Someone using public transport and visiting customers in their homes may well get enough exercise but there will be temptations to eat fast food or simply skip meals. Drinking lots of water is another central factor to good health. But carrying around large quantities when you are mostly on foot is tricky. Others will live out of a car with consequent irritations of journey delays and heavy traffic.
Lone Worker Vulnerability
No matter how well trained a lone worker is, they will still be subject to the stress of being constantly aware of their vulnerabilities. Having the capability of calling for help if necessary will be an essential aid in relieving that feeling of vulnerability, even if the risk assessment may not support it.
These factors should be addressed in working up a suitable risk assessment bearing in mind that energy and efficiency at work are also a function of physical, emotional, and mental health.
In many ways, it is more difficult for an organisation to address the problems of a healthy workplace for lone workers. Out of sight should not mean out of mind.