Following on from your risk assessment, you will need to produce a safety policy for your lone workers. A lone working safety policy is a guide that will set out your companies’ rules on working alone and help your employees to understand the risks they may face.
What is a lone worker safety policy?
Lone workers require their own policies and procedures to ensure they are protected from any specific risks and hazards. A lone worker policy as an official written document that covers the risks faced by lone working staff and the responsibilities of both the employer and employee in ensuring that lone workers can work safely.
It includes your lone worker risk assessment and practical instructions, as well as any details on any lone worker solutions in place and how to use them.
Why do I need a lone worker policy?
There is a general duty under Australian Health and Safety legislation to eliminate all risks to health and safety, and if risks cannot be eliminated they must be minimised as far as is reasonably practical.
A lone worker safety policy and risk assessment helps you to meet your duty of care under the legislation in your territory.
Tips for creating your lone working policy
Creating your lone working policy is an important task and we understand that sometimes it can seem daunting. Getting your lone workers on board is perhaps the greatest challenge which is why we have put together these tips for creating your lone worker safety policy.
Keep it simple
To ensure your lone workers understand and follow your policy, you should keep it as concise and simple as possible. Use language they would understand and clearly outline what is expected of them. Clarity is important, so consider the layout of the document as well as the language used.
It is important that your policy is regularly updated whenever your risk assessment is reassessed or whenever you introduce new lone working policies, such as a new training course or implementing a lone worker solution.
Involve your lone workers
In order to get your lone workers on board with your new lone worker policy, you should consider involving them in all aspects of the process. Ask them to help you identify risks and suggest ways they would feel safer.
Once your lone working policy has been developed, consider holding a workshop or health and safety day where you can openly discuss why you have developed the policy and what has been put in place. Be sure to focus on a clear safety message and the benefits to your lone workers.
While you want to encourage adoption through focusing on employee safety and wellbeing, you also need your employees to understand that the policies and procedures you have implemented are a requirement and non-optional.
Be direct in the language you use in your lone working policy. Avoid using words such as ‘you should’ or ‘you could’ which suggests a choice. Use ‘You must’ or ‘It is a requirement that…’
Your lone working policy will be developed as an extension to your lone working risk assessment. The policy document will include your risk assessment and the lone worker procedures you have put in place to reduce or eliminate the identified risks.
Lone working procedures
A lone worker procedure refers to a series of steps that need to be followed in order to work alone safely. You should document your lone worker procedures in your lone worker policy document.
You may find it useful to write a number of procedures suitable for different groups of employees so that they are able to digest the correct information easily.
Lone working procedure examples:
- How the lone worker should check-in with their supervisor and how often
- How and when to use any lone worker solutions, such as apps or devices
- What to do in an emergency including evacuation procedures and who to contact
- What to do when a client shows signs of aggression
- What to do when unauthorized visitors attempt to enter a building where the employee is working alone
This is not an exhaustive list and there are many more scenarios that will require a lone worker procedure. However, implementing as many procedures as is necessary can save lives. This is why it is important that your procedures are made compulsory and you avoid any language that could suggest a choice such as ‘you should’ or ‘you could’.
When first introducing new work alone procedures, it is important to provide briefing and training for your lone workers so that they know exactly what is expected of them. A written step-by-step guide should be distributed for them to refer to and it may be helpful to produce a safety checklist for your lone workers to follow until procedures become routine.
Free lone worker policy template and guide
Need some help getting started? We have created an in depth lone working policy guide and document template for you to use in your business