Individuals working alone encounter unique and severe health and safety risks, which are made worse by their inherent lack of support in an emergency.
This blog explains what counts as lone working and examines the risks lone workers face. We also explore lone worker rights and responsibilities, ways to keep them safe and the importance of training.
Who is Considered a Lone Worker?
A lone worker operates independently without immediate supervision or support. Here are a few instances of such independent workers:
- Field Service Technicians: Professionals servicing and maintaining equipment in remote locations often work alone.
- Freelancers and Independent Contractors: Individuals who work on a project basis without direct office supervision.
- Security Guards: Personnel responsible for monitoring and safeguarding properties often patrol areas alone during specific shifts.
- Remote Workers: Employees who work from home or other remote locations.
- Delivery Drivers: Individuals who move or transport goods from one place to another frequently operate independently.
What Are the Risks of Lone Working?
Common risks of lone working include:
- Accidents and Injuries: In the absence of immediate assistance, lone workers may struggle to get timely help in case of accidents or injuries.
- Personal Security: Certain roles, such as security personnel or those working in remote locations, may be exposed to unique security risks, including potential encounters with trespassers or criminals.
- Health Emergencies: Lone workers may confront health emergencies without anyone nearby to provide aid.
- Stress and Isolation: Prolonged periods of working alone can lead to stress and feelings of isolation, which can affect mental well-being.
- Communication Challenges: Lone workers may encounter difficulties communicating urgent information or seeking guidance in real-time, potentially affecting the resolution of critical issues.
What are the Rights and Responsibilities of Lone Workers?
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) offers guidance on the rights and responsibilities of lone workers, which can be summarised as follows:
Rights of Lone Workers
- A safe and healthy working environment
- Information, training, and supervision to carry out work safely
- Cooperation and communication channels with the employer
- Adequate measures for handling work-related risks and emergencies
- Access to necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) and safety devices
Responsibilities of Lone Workers
- Take care of their health and safety, and not endanger others
- Cooperate with the employer to comply with health and safety laws
- Use equipment provided for their safety correctly
- Follow instructions and training provided by the employer
- Inform the employer about any health and safety concerns or incidents
- Report any faulty equipment or potential hazards promptly
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How Can You Keep Lone Workers Safe?
Here are some strategies to keep lone workers safe:
- Technology Solutions: Implementing lone worker safety apps, GPS tracking and wearable devices can provide real-time monitoring and communication capabilities.
- Regular Check-Ins: Regular check-ins ensure that lone workers are accounted for and allow for early detection of any issues they may face.
- Health and Safety Courses: Employers should provide lone workers with relevant health and safety courses to minimise the risk of accidents, prevent injuries and ensure their well-being.
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Providing appropriate PPE and training workers on its use can mitigate certain risks and enhance overall safety.
- Collaborative Platforms: Use collaborative platforms and communication tools that allow solitary workers to establish connections with supervisors, colleagues, or emergency services whenever necessary.
Why is Lone Worker Training Important?
Lone worker training equips independent operators with the necessary skills to navigate potential risks and hazards they might encounter while working alone. Trainees develop awareness of lone working risks, relevant safety measures and what to do in emergencies
This understanding allows workers to confidently and safely carry out their responsibilities without close supervision.
Working alone presents opportunities and challenges for employees and employers alike. While the flexibility it offers can enhance productivity and job satisfaction, the safety of lone workers must be a priority. By understanding the risks and responsibilities of lone workers and implementing effective safety measures, organisations can create an environment where individuals can work independently without compromising their well-being.