Lone workers are people who work by themselves in the workplace or local community with limited or no way to talk to other people. Working alone is legal in most cases and a necessity in some industries, particularly for employees who travel to remote or isolated areas. Working alone can be dangerous and employers have a duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 to reduce the associated risks.
Each industry and organisation have their own definition of lone workers. Some people may work alone for a few hours or several days a week. Some workers may be in close proximity to other workers (but still cannot access them easily) or possibly miles away from a central office.
Despite the range of circumstances that fall under working alone, people are generally considered to be lone workers if they:
Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, employers are legally obliged to identify and eliminate any risk to employee wellbeing so far as is ‘reasonable practical.’ Failure to comply to the Act can result in harsh penalties.
Lone workers face different kinds of risks compared to those who work in the company of others. From personal injury and illness to violent confrontations, these risks are also amplified in situations where workers are left to their own devices. Employers who manage lone workers must pay particular attention to these different risks, and manage them accordingly. Common risks of working alone include:
By identifying the specific risks of working alone, employers can use their tools and resources to control risks related to the job. Employers should consult workers along with health and safety representatives or a workplace specialist to find out the risks and create a strategy to minimise those risks.
The following safety measures are commonly used to reduce the risks of working alone:
The purpose of a lone working policy is to address and manage the risks of working alone. Each organisation has their own risks and the policy should reflect the individual needs of lone workers.
A lone working policy should include:
For advice on how to manage working alone in the workplace, or for information on how to assess your workplace for risk, contact Employsure on 0800 675 700.