How to improve lone worker safety across your organisation
When properly implemented, the disaster-management cycle can lessen the impact of a catastrophic event. It can also incorporate the policies and emergency responses needed for a full, expedited recovery.
Every single day, lone workers face a myriad of different health and safety risks and hazards.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in 2019 showed that up to 25% of the UK workforce had lone working responsibilities. As to what constitutes a lone worker, that encompasses a broad spectrum.
Health and social care staff work alone for long periods, whether onsite or offsite, and the same can be said for sole traders, contractors, or freelancers out in the field. Delivery drivers, post office workers, service providers, estate agents, surveyors, those involved in community outreach programmes, and many other specialties could fall under the bracket of ‘lone working’.
And yet, millions of these people are regularly presented with numerous risks on a daily basis, ranging from verbal or physical abuse and harassment to serious injuries or accidents.
Organisations have a duty to protect their lone workers in their teams as much as possible. Employers should uphold stringent lone worker safety precautions across the board, precautions that encompass a broad range of factors, including risk assessment and management, location monitoring, personal security, emergency procedures and so on. They must comply with the Health and Safety Executive’s recommended framework for managing lone working risks, including violence, stress, mental well-being, medical suitability, and the workplace environment.
Proactive lone worker safety is crucial, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are some important steps you can take as an employer to ensure optimum safety for your lone workers.
Identifying your lone workers and common hazards
First, identify your lone workers, including their roles, responsibilities, and expectations. Once you have identified all the lone workers that your company employs or contracts, you should categorise all the potential hazards that are present in their various environments. The most common workplace hazards are ones that could cause harm to people, property, or equipment, and these should be flagged as risks. Identifying as many hazards as possible allows you to lay the foundations for proactive emergency response and serious injury prevention.
Conducting a lone working risk assessment
After you have identified the workers that need protection and the potential risks that could cause them harm, these should all be categorised at various levels in a security risk assessment. The risk assessment you create in detail, and that you use as a blueprint for further development and improvement, should inform you about the right processes and precautions you take.
Creating and implementing policies
Creating a detailed lone worker safety policy is vital for ensuring long-term employee well-being. This is an official document that establishes your specific company rules and regulations for maximising personal and collective safety. An official document will vary from firm to firm, based on industry, regulations, and lone worker hazards.
Provision of training and ongoing support
As part of your safety documentation and policy, employers must also identify the training needs of all lone-working staff. There are likely to be gaps in training for lone workers that are new to your organisation, and they may require additional supervision, provided sufficient resources can be allocated. However, even seasoned lone workers would always benefit from refresher training, particularly as many laborious or time-intensive processes become more automated and less manual. It’s in your best interests to ensure all staff – no matter their seniority or influence – has access to material that supports your most up-to-date practices for worker safety. Employers should implement support systems for individuals that are prone to high-risk situations, whatever they may be.
Even in light of all the above guidance, it’s important that all lone workers know their limits and also take a degree of responsibility to maximise their own personal safety, as well as that of others.
Employers are responsible for top-level decisions that affect workers in principle, however, they are instrumental in carrying out these actions in the correct, specified way. This means that workers themselves should report incidents in detail, assess their own risks continually, ensure they understand and acknowledge policies and procedures, attend training, and use any safety devices correctly.
If you would like to know more about how Locate Global is working with organisations across a wide variety of industries, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 (0) 208 057 6402.