Lone Worker Protection series

Module 3: Risks to lone workers

We use the acronym P.E.T. (People, Environment, Tasks) to breakdown the kind of risks your lone workers can face when doing their job. And we also look at an additional risk factor associated with an ageing workforce.

Managing Risks for Lone Workers – PET Approach

People Risks 

First up, let’s talk about People Risks. It’s about the dangers we might face when interacting with others while working alone. Who’s most affected by this?

Anyone whose job involves regular interactions with the public, like social workers, utility workers, charity volunteers, and others, is at increased risk of violence and aggression. Sometimes, it’s not just a specific target; it could be anyone experiencing emotional distress. 

So, how can we manage the risk of violence and aggression?

Conflict management training is essential. It helps you identify potential conflict situations before they escalate and teaches you how to remove yourself from danger. 

A solid risk assessment focusing on your working environment and operations can also make a big difference. For example, setting up a warning system for aggressive clients or having a policy for working in isolated areas. 

Environmental Risks

Next, let’s talk about Environmental Risks. This is about dealing with the elements while working alone. So who’s most at risk here? 

Those whose job involves working outside most of the time – like maintenance, utility, construction workers, and security personnel – are more likely to face these hazards.

How can we manage weather risks?

Clothing is crucial. Make sure you have waterproof, well-fitting, and breathable gear for wet or cold conditions. In certain sectors, high-visibility clothing is a must. Also, take regular breaks to warm up when it’s cold or wet to prevent stress and slips. 

Task-related Risks

Last but not least, let’s talk about Task-Related Risks. This involves the specific hazards associated with manual roles, especially when working alone.

Working at heights, handling dangerous substances, dealing with moving parts and electricity – these are all potential risks. But what’s critical here is having a solid risk assessment, proper training, and not being complacent.

So, how do we manage these task-related risks?

You need to conduct a thorough risk assessment. Identify hazards, assess risks, and put proper controls in place. Keep records and review the controls regularly. It’s all about being proactive and vigilant. 

Emerging health conditions

Now, let’s talk about an added potential risk factor that affects an ageing workforce.

As more people continue working past 65, there’s a higher chance of health conditions arising. That’s why we need to make allowances and support an age-diverse workforce. 

How can we manage the risk of underlying health conditions?

Consider age-sensitive risk assessments, offering opportunities for workers to move to more suitable roles. Foster an open culture where workers feel comfortable discussing their health conditions. It’s all about ensuring everyone’s safety.


Lone Worker Protection series

Next module: Creating a risk assessment