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Guide to lone working

Our comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about lone working. From identifying the lone workers in your organisation, to the risks they face in different environments, our lone worker guide will ensure you know how to keep your staff protected and meet your legal duty of care.

Contents

  1. What is a lone worker?
    Take a look at some of the official definitions and how to identify the lone workers in your organization, including ‘hidden lone workers’.
  2. What are the hazards and risks of lone working?
    Explore the hazards and risks faced by lone workers in different environments and job roles.
  3. UK lone worker legislation
    Understand the health and safety guidance that regulates lone working in the UK and what you are required to put in place in order to meet your duty of care.
  4. Who can work alone?
    We answer the question of who can work alone by looking at groups of potentially vulnerable or high-risk employees.
  5. Lone worker risk assessments
    What is a lone worker risk assessment and what should be included?
  6. Creating a lone worker policy
    How to create a lone worker policy, including checklists to ensure you include everything you need.
  7. How can I keep my lone workers safe?
    We outline the practical ways in which you can protect your lone working staff from harm, including apps, panic buttons, wearable technology and satellite devices.

SECTION 1

What is a lone worker?

A lone worker is anyone working without the direct and immediate support of supervisors or colleagues.

What is the HSE definition of a lone worker?

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) defines lone workers as “those who work by themselves without close or direct supervision.”

What is classed as lone working?

If an employee cannot be seen or heard by a colleague, they are a lone worker – whether that be for all or part of their working day. This also includes staff who work from home.

Lone working can constitute a wide range of job roles across any industry. Traditionally, the phrase ‘lone worker’ would likely conjure images of an employee working in complete isolation, such as a security guard manning a building at night, or an engineer carrying out maintenance in a remote area. While this may be true for some job roles, lone working doesn’t always mean completely alone.

When identifying lone workers in your organisation, it is important to consider ‘hidden lone workers’ in situations which may be overlooked, such as;

  • Those working on the same site but out of sight and sound of a colleague
  • Colleagues working alone in different parts of a building
  • Employees left alone for periods of time while a colleague takes a break
  • A single employee working late after everyone else has left the worksite
  • Anyone working alone but alongside members of the public or in populated locations
  • Staff travelling alone during work hours
  • Staff members who work from home

What types of jobs involve lone working?

There are many different jobs that involve lone working. Lone workers can be found across every industry, in various job roles, anywhere in the world.

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, there has also been a significant increase in employees who work from home. In a study conducted by 451 Research – the technology research unit of S&P Global Market Intelligence – 67% of businesses expect their home working policies, put in place to tackle the virus, to remain in place either permanently or for the long-term. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) considers those working from home to be lone workers. 

Some roles commonly utilizing lone workers include:

  • Utilities: remote engineers, meter readers, field service staff, maintenance and repair staff
  • Housing: real estate agents, surveyors, housing officers, housing agents, social workers
  • Healthcare: health visitors, paramedics, nurses
  • Charities and not-for-profits: outreach and community workers
  • Retail and hospitality: shopworkers, keyholders, cleaners, security guards, sales representatives
    Construction: laborers, builders, repairmen
  • Corporate businesses: office workers working from home or remotely

 How many people work alone?

Globally, The International Data Corporation estimates approximately 1.3 billion people are mobile workers, many of whom work alone for all or some of their working day.

This figure is likely to increase year on year. Technological advances mean that jobs that used to require a team can be done by an individual with specialist equipment and meetings that used to have to be conducted face to face can be done remotely. We are also better at identifying lone workers, with the HSE recognising home workers as lone workers for the first time in their latest guidance.

 British Safety Council Lone Worker stats

Source: British Safety Council

 What are the roles of lone workers?

Lone workers are employees who do not have direct supervision when carrying out their duties. Sometimes work is undertaken in areas which are remote, or one-to-one with members of the public or clients. 

Lone workers can be at additional risk from violence, aggression or injury as there is no one there to raise the alarm in an emergency. 

Workers that are particularly vulnerable to violence and aggression are often those who are public-facing, such as social care workers, paramedics and security guards. 

Other job roles are more susceptible to accidental injury, for example construction workers, engineers, field service workers and delivery drivers.

However, it is important that despite these additional risks, lone workers should feel protected. It is the duty of an employer to ensure that reasonable steps are taken to mitigate any risks they face

How can security be achieved in the workplace?

  • Ensure a risk assessment is completed prior to any work being carried out
  • Correct health and safety strategies and training are executed
  • It is an employer’s responsibility to conduct relevant and thorough training for their lone workers
  • Ensure lone workers are wearing protective and conspicuous clothing, such as Hi-Vis jackets if working underground or late shifts
  • Keep a record of where staff are, when and who they are with or implement a specialist solution that can do this for you

StaySafe is a solution that has been designed to give visibility of employees’ locations when they are working alone and enable them to signal for help in an emergency situation.

SECTION 2

What are the hazards of lone working?

hazards-of-lone-working

The most common hazards faced by lone workers vary according to industry and job role. However, the top causes of workplace accidents, incidents and fatalities are fairly consistent around the world.

Lone working hazards include:

  • Violence and aggression from clients or members of the public
  • Spills, cables and other tripping hazards
  • Working at height such as ladders, scaffolding and roofing
  • Operating machinery and equipment
  • Working with electricity, chemicals and other harmful substances
  • Heavy lifting, repetitive movements and vibrations
  • Working around vehicles
  • Driving for work

According to HSE statistics 2019/20:

  • 111 workers were killed at work
  • 581,000 working people sustained an injury at work according to the Labour Force Survey
  • 69,208 injuries to employees were reported under RIDDOR

The biggest risk factors in the workplace

The biggest workplace risk factors for employees in the UK are accidental injury, acts of violence or a health emergency.

According to the Labour Force Survey, 581,000 workers sustained a non-fatal injury in 2018/19. The most common cause of injury was slips trips and falls (29%) followed by handling, lifting or carrying (20%). Being struck by a moving object (10%), violence (8%) and falls from height (8%) were also significant causes of non-fatal workplace injury. 

A health emergency, such as heart attack or stroke, can occur anytime and requires immediate medical assistance.

HSE injury statistics 2019/20

Source: HSE injury statistics 2019/20

Violence at work

Violence and threats are even more common than sustaining injury at work. According to Violence at work statistics, 688,000 incidents of violence were reported by employees in 2019/20.

38% of these resulted in injury, most commonly severe bruising. Other injuries reported by staff included stab wounds, broken bones, nose bleeds, broken noses, lost teeth, dislocation, concussion or loss of consciousness, internal injuries, facial and head injuries. 

 Violence at Work HSE statistics 2019/20

Source: HSE Violence at Work 

Who is most at risk from violence at work?

The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) showed that respondents in protective service occupations (such as police officers) faced by far the highest risk of assaults and threats while working, at 8.4% – 6 times the average risk of 1.4%. Health and social care specialists and health professionals also had higher than average risk at 3.9% and 3.3% respectively. 

According to the CSEW, these professions have consistently had higher than average risk rates over the last number of years. Other professions with higher than average risk include other managers and proprietors at 2.9%.

As an employer, you have a duty of care to ensure that all staff are safe at work, no matter what their role is. Risk Assessments can help you to understand the specific dangers faced by your employees in different situations and enable you to put measures in place to mitigate any risks.

What are the risks of lone working?

Workplace hazards such as injury or violence can be an increased risk to lone workers because there is no one to intervene or call for help in an emergency.

How many lone workers are attacked every day?

The British Crime Survey estimates that as many as 150 lone workers are physically or verbally attacked every day in the UK alone. Unfortunately, lone workers are more vulnerable to violence and aggression due to the nature of their work or being seen as easier targets.

Not only can attacks result in physical injury, violence towards lone workers can result in stress, anxiety, fear and depression. This in turn can lead to sick leave, loss of confidence and low productivity and problems with staff retention.

HSE injury at work statistics 2019/20

Source: HSE Violence at Work 2019/20

How high risk is lone working?

Lone workers face similar types of risks to non lone working employees – however, as any risks are faced alone they are more vulnerable.

Lone working is considered a higher risk activity for a variety of reasons. Lone workers may be more susceptible to attack because they are seen as an easy target. If they suffer an accident or other emergency situation, there is no one with them to help or call for assistance. A lone employee may take on more physical work, such as lifting, than they are capable of because no one is there to help and then hurt themselves as a result.

What types of risks do lone workers face?

The main risks associated with lone working include people, environmental risks and ill health.

People risk

Unfortunately, lone workers are at higher risk of violence and aggression and are often regarded as easier targets. This could be down to the nature of their work, such as working with vulnerable members of the public and behind closed doors (social, housing and outreach workers for example) or working with large amounts of money (retail, bar, hospitality and security staff).

A survey conducted for Suzy Lamplugh Trust found that 81% of lone workers are concerned about violence and aggression. Of those surveyed, one in ten had been punched, kicked or suffered another form of violent attack.

According to the Crime Survey for England and Wales an estimated 1.5% of working adults have been the victim of one or more violent incidents at work.

Environmental risk

Lone workers are at risk from workplace hazards such as slips, trips and falls, heavy lifting and electrocution. Working alone poses a challenge in regard to receiving immediate assistance and medical support if an accident does occur.

Ill health

Similarly, if a lone worker suffers from a medical emergency such as a heart attack or fainting, receiving immediate support and alerting emergency services could prove difficult without nearby colleagues, particularly if working remotely or out of sight and sound.

Risks of lone working in different environments

Different environments pose different sets of risks for lone working staff and in many industries the dangers faced by staff – especially violence – are increasing. Here we examine the risks posed in some common lone working roles.

lone-working-in-different-environments

Many lone workers visit clients in their homes, placing them at higher risk of violence, aggression and hostage situations, particularly if working with vulnerable individuals. Entering a client’s home comes with an element of the unknown. There could be aggressive animals present in the home, trip hazards, aggression and hostility from individuals within the property and potential alcohol and substance abuse.

In a study published by the BMJ journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 22% of domiciliary care workers reported at least one incident of verbal abuse by clients or their relatives in the previous 12 months. Heightened risk factors included cramped client living conditions, clients with dementia and limited mobility. Interestingly, workers with predictable working hours had a 26% lower risk of being verbally abused – indicating that workers who have changeable rotas are at an increased risk.

Other community workers such as social workers, community nurses and charity workers are also vulnerable to similar risks. This can be particularly true for those working in environments where drugs, alcohol and mental health issues could be involved.

Many community workers also drive between appointments and so are at risk of being involved in a road traffic accident whilst at work – especially those who drive at night. Many lone workers visit clients in their homes, placing them at higher risk of violence, aggression and hostage situations, particularly if working with vulnerable individuals. Entering a client’s home comes with an element of the unknown. There could be aggressive animals present in the home, trip hazards, aggression and hostility from individuals within the property and potential alcohol and substance abuse. Find out more

Lone workers in public facing roles can be at risk of violence and aggressive behaviour. Lone working retail staff can be seen as easy targets for robberies, while frustrated members of the public or clients can act aggressively towards staff in any situation.

The 2017/18 CSEW asserts that the majority of workplace violence (54%) is carried out by a stranger, with 28% of attacks conducted by a client or member of the public known through work.

Construction workers are one of the highest risk industries for injury or death at work. According to HSE statistics (2019/20) the construction sector had the highest number of workplace fatalities. 

Even if you have several employees on site, the size and noise levels could mean that some or all employees could be considered to be lone working. As there are many hazards present when working in construction, such as dangerous machinery and tools, electrocution and working at height, failure to quickly gain the attention of a colleague in an emergency could result in life changing or even fatal injuries.

Those who work in utilities and field service, such as engineers, are also at risk of injury whilst on site or visiting clients homes.

Common risks to field-based workers include;

  • Working at height
  • Working with utilities including electricity and gas
  • Working with specialist or large equipment
  • Working next to busy roads
  • Driving to and from site
  • Unsocial hours

Learn more about lone worker safety in utilities or field service.

In a study published by Security Magazine – Crimes at Night: Analyzing Police Incident Reports in Major Cities – violent crimes are most likely to occur after dark. Murder, rape, drink/drug driving, robbery and assault are all more likely to occur at night than during the day.

Along with the additional risk, the number of people working at night is also increasing. Analysis published by the TUC in 2018 showed that the number of people who work night shifts had increased by 151,000 (5%) since 2013 to reach more than 3 million (3,138,000). Britain’s night workers now account for one in nine (11.5%) of employees.

Two thirds (66.8%) of this increase were women, with 101,000 more women working at night than 5 years ago. The most common professions for night work for women being care work and nursing. Male night workers are still more common than women –  1,891,000 compared to 1,247,000. Men are more likely to work as transport drivers and in security roles. The study also showed a significant rise in night workers over 50 – a 114% increase.

With the number of employees who work at night increasing, including more women and older workers, it is more important than ever to consider the risks associated with working after dark.

Working alone at night can come with an increased risk of robberies and assault. Staff lone working in a shop or working alone in an office may face the danger of armed robberies and theft from criminals targeting properties when they are quieter and less populated. Nurses and carers may face more anti-social behaviour or drink and drug related incidents when working and driving at night. 

Sadly, we frequently see news reports of assaults and threats being made against NHS staff. In the latest available annual NHS staff survey 2018, 14.5% of staff said they had experienced physical violence from patients, their relatives or the public.

In addition, research conducted by the Health and Safety Journal & Unison found an absolute increase of 9.7 per cent in violent attacks on NHS hospital staff – suggesting an average of just over 200 reported physical assaults on NHS staff every day. 

Medical staff most at risk include nurses, paramedics and mental health staff, yet everyone across the healthcare is at risk – particularly as staff shortages create high stress environments and increase the number of lone working employees. With a growing number of patients and lack of additional staff, there is a growing risk to staff who are often faced with anger and hostility when performing their duties to aid members of the public.

Aggression and violence in the retail industry is also on the rise. The 2020 British Retail Consortium Crime Survey showed that incidents of violence and abuse have risen to 424 each day, up 9% from the previous year. They also stated that the increased use of weapons, particularly knives, remains a worrying trend.

Retail workers reported a particular threat when asking for ID before selling age-restricted products but also experienced aggression due to anger towards the establishment or even personal attacks due to gender, race and sexuality. Lone workers in retail are also at risk from armed robberies.

A recent survey by Inside Housing (UK) revealed a rise in the number of reported assaults against frontline staff in recent years. In 2019, assaults on frontline social housing workers rose by more than 10%, with more than 2,000 verbal and physical attacks on staff members. This equates to 7.9 assaults for every 100 housing staff. 49% of respondents reported that they felt less safe now than they did in the previous year.

Commenting on the findings, the Suzy Lamplugh Trust said that an increase in the amount of lone working as a result of budget cuts could also be having an impact – with 45% of those who have been assaulted saying that they had been working alone at the time.

The reasons behind assaults within the property industry are wide-ranging and complex. Many jobs involve delivering bad news and working with clients facing a range of issues. Many incidents occur away from the public, and behind closed-doors, putting staff at increased risk and limiting the options for calling for help. Find out more

Risks of lone working for property and Estate Agents

Estate agents are some of the most well known lone workers. The UK’s most prominent lone worker safety charity, the Suzy Lamplugh Trust was formed following the disappearance of Estate Agent Suzy Lamplugh during a property visit in 1986.

Estate Agents are vulnerable to aggression and attack as their job involves entering properties alone with vendors and buyers on a daily basis. Find out more

In 2020, HSE added home working to their safety guidance. HSE states that ‘as an employer, you have the same health and safety responsibilities for home workers as for any other workers’ and that ‘there will always be greater risks for lone workers with no direct supervision or anyone to help them if things go wrong’. 

HSE advises that you keep in touch with lone workers, including those working from home, and ensure regular contact to make sure they are healthy and safe. 

You should consider:

  • How will you keep in touch with them?
  • What work activity will they be doing (and for how long)?
  • Can it be done safely? 
  • Do you need to put control measures in place to protect them?

If contact is poor, workers may feel disconnected, isolated or abandoned. This can affect stress levels and mental health.

SECTION 3

UK Lone worker legislation

What is the lone worker legislation in the UK?

Lone workers are subject to the same health and safety legislation as all other employees. In the UK employers must comply with Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HASAW or HSWA) and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 sets out the general health and safety duties of employers and employees ‘so far as is reasonably practicable’ – meaning putting in place policies and procedures that mitigate risks that can be foreseen in advance.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 requires employers carry out risk assessments, implement safety procedures, appoint competent people and invest in appropriate training. 

Who regulates lone worker legislation in the UK?

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It prevents work-related death, injury and ill health. The HSE is a key source for lone worker safety information, providing a wealth of guidance to ensure that businesses adhere to the Health and Safety at Work Act and regulations.

Is lone working legal?

Working alone is completely legal and is usually safe to do so. However, all employers hold a legal responsibility to protect their lone workers and ensure that they are safe when carrying out work activities. The HSE states that: “It will often be safe to work alone. However, the law requires you to think about and deal with any health and safety risks before people are allowed to do so”.

What is my duty of care to lone workers?

According to Mooneerams Solicitors:


“An employer owes his employees a duty of care in common law. By common law we mean that the ‘duty’ is not written down in an act of Parliament but one that has come about due to custom i.e. a practice that has become law over a period of time. 
The common law duty of care can be defined as ‘a duty to take care of you whilst you are at work’. He must take reasonable care of your safety, avoid exposing you to unnecessary risks and ensure a safe system of working”.

In practical terms, this means individuals responsible for employees in an organisation, are required to proactively identify, assess, control and monitor work tasks and the workplace environment. Risks should be identified and all reasonable steps taken to eliminate risk. Where risk cannot be entirely eliminated, the risk must be minimised as far as is reasonably practical.

What is my responsibility when it comes to lone workers? 

HSE Guidelines state that as an employer, you must manage any health and safety risks before people can work alone. This applies to anyone contracted to work for you, including self-employed people.

You can help to reduce the risks to lone workers by:

  • Conducting thorough lone worker risk assessments
  • Producing a written health and safety policy and ensuring all employees understand it
  • Taking steps to reduce or eliminate risk in order to create a safe working environment
  • Providing information, instruction, lone worker training and supervision where appropriate
  • Regularly reviewing and improving upon lone worker risk assessments and policies

Many employers also use specific lone worker solutions to ensure their staff are safe and can quickly call for help in an emergency. The prevalence of smartphone use has led to a move away from devices – lanyards with a panic button for example –  towards apps, as employees already carry a smartphone with them on a daily basis. Police have also issued warnings over the use of lanyards.

In fact, 20% of all lone worker solutions in Europe, and more than 40% in North America, are now app based. StaySafe is a lone worker safety app that gives employers visibility of the location and safety status of lone workers in an emergency.

Find out more about how StaySafe works 

 What are the penalties of not following lone worker legislation?

Not adhering to health and safety regulations in the UK is a serious offence. On 1st February 2016 the UK passed the Health and Safety Act 2015, which further increased the severity of penalties for non compliance.The main changes were:

1) A move from outcome based sentencing to risk based sentencing

Previously, prosecution was based on the outcome of an accident or incident. However, the new sentencing guidelines are based on the exposure of risk to individuals. This means that if an employee is exposed to a risk that could result in injury or death, the business can be prosecuted before an incident occurs

2) Increased fines

Fines for health and safety breaches increased dramatically (starting as high as the millions) and are now given for exposure to risk. For example, corporate manslaughter fines for large companies increased from a starting threshold of £500,000 to £7.5 million.

3) Lower threshold for imprisonment

If an employer is aware of a health and safety breach in the business that could or has caused injury or death and has not taken action to rectify it, they could face 6-18 months of imprisonment.

Failure to comply with health and safety legislation is likely to lead to;

  • Large fines reaching as high as millions
  • Additional costs associated with compensation, resources and legal costs
  • Lost reputation and ultimately business
  • Stop work orders
  • Imprisonment of the individuals found responsible

Download our guide: Legal, Moral, Financial: building a business case for lone worker safety

 

What must the employer of a lone worker do?

Carry out a lone worker risk assessment

Risk assessments for lone working are a basic legal requirement and should be carried out for all employees. When carrying out a risk assessment for lone working staff, you must consider hazards related to the work being carried out, the people they come into contact with and the different environments they travel through and work in.

Produce a lone worker policy

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 of their role. It should also provide them with practical advice and instruction on how to safely work alone.

Provide lone worker training

For lone working staff, training is particularly important as they work in environments where there are no colleagues around to provide a helping hand or point out a mistake that could lead to an accident.

News stories regularly point out lack of training as a contributing or sole factor for serious workplace injuries and fatalities.

Training for lone workers is incredibly important for a business to implement as it can:

  • Prevent accidents caused by improper work practices or techniques
  • Prevent serious incidents of violence by defusing potentially violent situations
  • Prevent escalation/severity of an accident or incident by knowing how to respond
  • Challenge complacent attitudes amongst lone workers
  • Create a positive health and safety culture
  • Increase wellbeing, confidence and productivity
  • Help you meet your legal duty of care to lone working staff
  • Help you avoid the financial costs related to accidents and incidents

Implement a lone worker solution

Lone worker solutions are specialist products that are designed to monitor staff safety and give employees a quick way to signal for help in an emergency. They can help employers not only to meet their duty of care to staff, but also ensure staff also feel protected and cared for whilst at work.

StaySafe is an app based solution that is used by employers to protect their staff. It provides lone workers with a panic button and a range of alerts so they can summon help immediately – to their exact location – in an emergency.

SECTION 4

Who can work alone?

Legally, anyone can work alone as long as a risk assessment has found that it is safe to do so. Lone working is usually completely safe once extra procedures have been put in place to minimize the additional risks lone workers face.

However, there are some instances where lone working should not be permitted if the job is high risk. For example, operating machinery which requires more than one person, visiting clients where there are concerns about violence or other environments where aggression is common, such as betting shops.

Can someone with medical conditions work alone?

To determine whether someone with a medical condition can work alone, you will need to consider employee medical conditions as part of your risk assessment and ensure there are procedures in place to protect them.

Employers should seek medical advice for specific employees if necessary. You should consider both routine work and foreseeable emergencies that may impose additional physical and mental burdens on an individual.

Can an apprentice work alone?

An apprentice can work alone if it is safe to do so. Employers have the same responsibility to apprentices as they do any other employee. Therefore, they hold a primary responsibility for the health and safety of the apprentice and are required to carry out risk assessments and put in place measures to manage any dangers.

Can a 16-year-old work alone?

A 16-year-old can work alone if the organization employing them has conducted a risk assessment and found it safe to do so. Young people under 18 have different employment rights from adult workers, including where and when they can work so you must ensure you refer to specific guidance if you employ under 18’s.

When is lone working not allowed?

Certain situations can put lone workers more at risk than others and in some circumstances, it may be better to not allow lone working at all. For example, some mental health care workers must work in pairs at all times when visiting certain patients as it has been deemed unsafe to go alone. It is down to you to ensure that you have undertaken a thorough risk assessment and if you cannot sufficiently mitigate the issues raised, then allowing lone working could put you in breach of your duty of care.

Supervising lone workers

HSE guidance states that employers should ensure that they maintain regular contact with lone working employees and have a way to call for help in an uncomfortable or emergency situation. Lone working solutions, including apps and wearable technology can ensure that these requirements are met by providing lone working staff with a means to contact their employer, check in safely and raise the alarm in an emergency.

SECTION 5

Lone worker risk assessment guide

Conducting risk assessments is an integral part of adhering to health and safety legislation and meeting your duty of care to lone workers.

Lone workers face a range of hazards and risks on a daily basis, that can differ from those based in a fixed or office environment.

What is a lone worker risk assessment?

A lone working risk assessment is a process of identifying and assessing risks associated with a job role carried out by a lone worker. When carrying out a risk assessment for lone working staff, you must consider hazards related to the work being carried out, the people they come into contact with and the different environments they travel and work in. The purpose of the assessment is to identify what needs to be done to control health and safety risks for your lone workers

What is a dynamic risk assessment?

A dynamic risk assessment is the process of identifying risks in the current environment. Unlike a traditional risk assessment, which is done in advance, a dynamic risk assessment is the practise of mentally observing, assessing and analysing an environment ‘on the spot’. This is an important skill that enables employees to make decisions regarding their own safety in any situation and one you should consider providing additional training on.

Read more about dynamic risk assessments in our blog

Are lone working risk assessments a legal requirement?

Lone working risk assessments are a basic legal requirement and should be carried out for all employees. It is often kept as part of your Lone Worker Policy.

How do I create a lone worker risk assessment?

Your lone working risk assessment should contain:

  • The hazards identified
  • Who might be harmed and how
  • The procedures already in place to prevent harm and;
  • What further action you will take to further reduce risk

It is also useful to include on your written report who carried out the risk assessment, the date it was carried out, the date of any next steps and when the next review is due.

Free Lone working risk assessment template and guide

To help you get started with writing your lone working risk assessment, we have created a comprehensive step by step guide, including a template document for you to use.

Lone worker risk assessment example:

SECTION 6

Lone working policy and procedures

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.

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.

Update regularly

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.

Be direct

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

SECTION 7

How can I keep my lone workers safe?

Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations, you must manage the risk to lone workers.

The HSE guidance for lone worker safety states that you must:

  • train, supervise and monitor lone workers
  • keep in touch with them and respond to any incident

Types of lone worker solutions

Lone worker safety isn’t a new concept for health and safety professionals and the types of protection that businesses can offer staff are comprehensive. Historically companies have relied on diaries and buddy systems to keep in touch with lone workers. However, as with many industries, advancing technology is leading the way with regards to the solutions employers are choosing, leaving these manual methods outdated.

According to a 2019 Berg Insights Report, 20% of all lone worker solutions in Europe, and more than 40% in North America, are now app based. This number is predicted to grow; worker safety devices based on GPS and cellular technology in Europe are expected to reach 1.1 million users at the end of 2022.

Typically lone worker apps consist of the app itself, which has a range of functions including panic button, GPS location, timed sessions, man down alerts and check-ins. Employee activity and the location of staff whilst at work is monitored via a cloud based hub where employers can respond to any alerts.

Lone worker apps are particularly suitable in the current climate because of how well they lend themselves to being trialled, rolled out and utilized by staff remotely. You now no longer need to be in the same room, or even the same country, to be able to roll out and use a product successfully.

Apps can be downloaded directly onto employees’ cells without the need for any additional equipment being delivered. At a time when supply chains are likely to be majorly disrupted, this is a big advantage. Monitors can be trained to use a system remotely via WebEx and staff protected quickly. Alternatively, the monitoring of staff can be outsourced to professional monitoring firms who will handle any alerts.

StaySafe was at the forefront of the safety app revolution, having first entered the market in 2011. Now used by tens of thousands of employees across five continents, our easy-to-use app and monitoring hub allows lone workers to raise an alert in a range of situations while providing monitors with the accurate locations of employees while they work alone.

Why do businesses choose StaySafe?

Organizations who choose StaySafe do so because it is so easy and simple to use, with no capital outlay – most employees already use a cellphone everyday. It is scalable for use in any business, in any industry – we work with Ericsson to Oxfam and everyone in between. We also provide a full end-to-end service – including innovative in app training – to ensure you and your staff get the most from the app and are protected everyday.

Find out more about StaySafe solutions

Lone Worker App

Our intuitive app allows employees to check in safely following a lone working session and raise an alert in an emergency.

Cloud Based Monitoring Hub
Our hub uses GPS to accurately locate your lone workers and provides you with real-time updates on their movements.
Wearable Technology
Pairing the app with V.BTTN is a great solution for anyone working at height, with gloves or machinery, where pushing a button may be a more convenient way of using the StaySafe app.
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Satellite Tracking Devices
Our satellite tracking devices are designed for those regularly travelling to remote areas where you can’t even get a mobile signal.