28 Mar Lone Working Policy: How to create an effective policy
A lone working policy is a practical guide that can be introduced to your employees and that they can apply to their job roles. Although lone working policies are not a legal requirement, having one in place can help promote a safe working culture within your workforce.
It is recommended to build your lone working policy into an actual document, instead of presenting information verbally. It should be easy to access and be clear and concise. Ensure that lone workers and their managers are familiar with this document and that they know where it is kept. New employees should be issued with a copy of the policy upon commencing employment, as should any contractors or temporary workers used in the business.
Gathering Risk Information
As an employer, under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, you have a legal duty to assess all risks to health and safety, including the risk of lone working. To address this, a risk assessment must be carried out to identify hazards in the workplace and the likelihood of them causing harm to your employees and others.
This risk information will become one of the most important aspects of your Lone Working Policy, so it is important not to rush the process. It will be beneficial to include your workforce in this process and you can do so using the following methods:
- Holding focus groups with your employees
- Providing employees with surveys and questionnaires to complete
- Observing employees in their working environment
- Analysing your records from previous incidents
- Formal auditing
How to structure your Lone Working Policy
It is a good idea to structure your lone working policy in a similar format to your other business documents. That way employees will be able to identify it clearly as company policy. It is also important to:
- Write in clear, concise language and preferably in the third person
- Avoid words that imply choice, such as ‘may’, ‘should’ or ‘can’
- Avoid using information that could potentially become out of date, such as names
What to include in your Lone Working Policy
Specific risk situations should be identified in your lone working policy, with information for employees on how to handle these risks. These should also be broken down by job role, type of worker and department so your employees can easily see which risks apply to them.
Defining lone workers
It may also be helpful for your workforce to define exactly what a lone worker is, and what job titles they have within your organisation. It is important to note that you may in fact have more lone workers than you previously expected. Lone workers are not necessarily employees who work on their own for the entire day, they may only work without close or direct supervision for a small part of it. They may be in a fixed establishment or work away from your organisation’s headquarters. By defining what a lone worker is, your employees will find it easier to identify with that title, prepare for risks and be more inclined to use lone worker solutions you have in place.
Explain why the policy exists
It is important to provide rationale for your lone working policy, and explain to your workforce, within the document, why the policy exists, how it falls in line with your business values and how the policy will help to protect lone workers. Your lone worker policy is a brilliant opportunity to show your workforce how much your company values them and cares about their safety at work.
The policy needs to clearly outline who exactly is responsible for what within your workforce. Employees will have a degree of responsibility for their own personal safety, and need to adhere to the measures you have put in place to protect them at work. Make it very clear in the policy where responsibility lies, so there is no confusion and employees do not unintentionally compromise their safety. This could also include information on using lone worker devices.
The policy should also include information on who employees report incidents to, and what the process for reporting is (such as a formal logging system, or informing a specific person and filling out a form). Reporting not only helps you to identify new risks to your workforce, but it is essential for your own records and protecting yourself as an employer.
Who to go to for help
Finally, your lone working policy should include the names and contact information for anyone your employees can go to if they have concerns about their personal safety. This may be another person within your organisation, but it could also be a trade union or external agency.