It’s our business to protect lone workers, wherever they’re operating and whenever they’re alone. That’s why we know what job roles lone workers might have. Of course, they could be working in complete isolation. But many, if not most, lone workers regularly operate in highly populated areas or alongside clients, customers and members of the public. What classifies such roles as lone workers is that the job-holders are out of sight or hearing of their colleagues. And that means that organisations must frame their lone worker policies to accommodate all lone working roles. This includes undertaking regular lone worker risk assessments. Not least, that way, they can ensure that those workers receive the level of protection they need.
Identifying lone worker risks in your organisation
A lone worker is anyone working without direct and immediate support from supervisors or colleagues. Put simply, if an employee cannot be seen or heard by a colleague, they are lone working, whether that’s for all or part of their working day. Some of your lone workers will be easy to identify by assessing work patterns and roles. Home visits, being on the road during the working day, or working from home are obvious examples of lone working. However, there may be times where you need to think more laterally to understand that your employees are lone working.
It may be useful to talk to your employees and think about identifying ‘hidden’ lone workers in your organization. For instance, colleagues may work in different parts of a building or site, such as two cleaners working on different floors. Even employees working as pairs may be separated during the working day, such as taking lunch breaks at different times. Or one worker may be left alone on a shop floor while their colleague is in the stock room. Employees may be left working alone if a colleague is on leave or travelling. If a worker is operating on a noisy site, colleagues may not be able to see/hear them if they need help.
Lone worker risk assessments: formulate and regularly review
Once lone working practices have been identified, it’s important that you risk assess each of these situations and put measures in place to mitigate the risks involved. There are of course different risks associated with the level of isolation that comes with lone working. Those out in a remote and completely isolated location are more exposed to environmental risks that could lead to an accident. In contrast, those working alongside members of the public or in clients’ homes are at higher risk of experiencing violence and aggression.
Work out the severity and likelihood of the main lone worker risks which may face. It’s a good idea to use a risk matrix to identify ‘red’ risks – the most serious and probable ones – which need to be mitigated. Once you have a risk assessment, don’t just leave it on the shelf. Make sure to work with the lone worker to help them understand measures that you and they can take to limit risks. It’s best practice to review risk assessments at least annually. And obviously if anything changes in a worker’s role, then an immediate review is necessary.
Bespoke protection from lone worker risks with Safe Hub
You can mitigate all the main lone worker risks faced on a daily basis with Safe Hub. Our range of safety features extends from Red Alert for emergency help, through to Group Alert to stop lone workers getting into trouble in the first place. With Yellow Alert, workers can leave detailed messages to give important contextual detail to their location. When they’re at risk of suffering slips, trips and falls, Worker Down can get them the help they need. With Safe Check, workers who are out and about can check in by responding to automated prompts. And even in hazardous environments we have Safe Beacon, which gets lone workers dynamic risk messages.
With every new deployment, we spend time with clients to gauge the different risks which lone working job roles may face. We work with individual lone worker risk assessments to provide a tailored package of support. That way, we can ensure the best use of our devices and apps, and the safety features which will be of most use. Even within one company, this might mean we deploy a range of devices, and activate different safety features, for various groups of workers. So however many different lone working job roles you have in your organisation, we’ve got them all covered.
Contact Lone Worker Solutions and the Safe Hub team today
Post by George Stavrinidis
George is Chief Executive Officer of Lone Worker Solutions (LWS). He believes passionately that everyone should be protected and supported at work. George supports LWS clients to make sure they enjoy the most effective relationship with the team and maximise the effectiveness of their deployment of Safe Hub.