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The rise of the hidden lone workers – why employers must help employees embrace their lone worker status

Lone workers were once an anomaly, but the number of employees who regularly work without close supervision has been growing in the UK, with the number of lone workers almost doubling over the last decade. It is now estimated that up to 20% of the working population in Europe and North America are lone workers. Yet 64% of those lone workers do not consider themselves to be. And according to StaySafe, one of the world’s leading lone worker specialists, this is putting their safety at significant risk.

Speaking about the findings, Richard Bedworth, VP of Sales at StaySafe, says it’s on the employer to ensure the employee knows they are a lone worker and make them aware of the procedures in place to keep them safe.

“Prior to 2020, lone working had been steadily growing in popularity thanks to advances in technology making it possible for staff to work remotely with ease, but the pandemic accelerated the adoption of lone working. This means you are likely to find lone workers in almost every industry, from local authorities to construction, healthcare to engineering, and charities to utilities, and as such, millions of businesses in the UK alone employ lone workers and, thus are responsible for their safety and welfare.

“The pandemic catapulted many businesses into a world they were unfamiliar with. Although seen as a temporary change by many, the truth is that the workforce hasn’t  returned to how it was pre-pandemic, with the majority of businesses embracing a fully remote or hybrid working model. And four years on from the Pandemic, not being set up for this change in working patterns just won’t cut it, and is part of the reason so many lone workers do not see themselves as such.

“Employers have a duty of care to their employees, regardless of where they are based. If employees are not based out of a single place of work – even some of the time – employers must have formal lone-worker procedures in place to keep them safe. This can look different for each type of employee – for example implementing desk assessments to minimise the risk of work-related strain and injury for desk-based remote workers, or large-scale hazard risk assessments for field-based employees.

“It really is time that businesses that don’tpolicies in place for lone workers implement these as a priority – not only for their safety and security, but also for their overall wellbeing. After all, the importance of these formal policies cannot be underestimated. Not only do they give peace of mind for the employer that their workers are safe and reduce the risk of injury, but they have also been proven to reduce workplace absences, improve productivity and increase staff morale and employee retention.”

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