We looked in our last blog at the UK’s workplace injury and illness statistics. As we discussed last time, the UK’s record stands up well in comparison with other European countries. But it’s important for employers not to become complacent. Creating and maintaining a health and safety culture is hard work, especially in organisations with large numbers of lone workers. In this blog, we’re going to be looking at a health and safety culture and fitting in lone worker protection.
Lone worker safety and employee wellbeing
Many organisations seem to think of health and safety as a burden rather than a constructive business objective. By making health and safety an asset, rather than a liability, organisations can bring positive, demonstrable results throughout their business. Much of this comes down to clear lines of responsibility. But it also comes down to openness, regular review, and learning from the process. To do this, it’s a good idea to implement risk control systems, including KPIs, clear safety procedures, accident investigations, and competence assurance. Remember to get buy-in from every level, so that health and safety becomes embedded in everyday work practices.
It’s also important to be targeting the right things. Health and safety has a number of different axes. As we mentioned last time, the figures for safety are going in the right direction. However, we're seeing an increase in work-related ill-health, stress, depression and anxiety. According to a recent Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management (IWFM) sustainability survey over 70% of organisations provide some sort of KPI report on workplace safety. But only about 40% of organisations are reporting on broader measures around health and wellbeing. Reducing stress and anxiety for everyone in the workplace will lead to better outcomes for all.
Use Group Alert to help protect lone workers
Sometimes, it’s best to take practical measures to address health issues. One of the hottest topics at the moment is the spread of the Chinese coronavirus infection. Many organisations are concerned about how best to protect their workers in the face of a public health alert. It’s shining a spotlight on employers’ approaches to cleaning and infection control. General health and safety advice about cleaning is available on the UK’s Health & Safety Executive (HSE) website. There are some clear steps that can limit the risks associated with the spread of infections such as coronavirus. These include performing routine workplace housekeeping and guaranteeing the availability of washrooms and handwashing supplies. But many of these steps are focused on making a workplace safer. For those workers not based onsite, how can employers still protect them? Getting across messages around a general culture of safety is a great start, and Safe Hub's Group Alert feature can help. Group Alert is a way to communicate with groups of lone workers about hazards they might face – and how to avoid them. With Group Alert, managers can send critical alerts to workers in the event of an emergency or communicate proactive health messages. Group Alert provides tailored messages, so line managers can take into account where their lone workers are or might be going. They can target messages to specific individuals, pre-defined groups, or specific geographic areas, such as those workers within 10km of a particular hazard. It’s vital to communicate that lone workers need to take care when touching surfaces where viruses and other pathogens may linger. Encourage workers to practise good hand hygiene, by washing with hot water and soap (as many viruses and bacteria are resistant to alcohol). Promote a general culture of safety, including not reporting to work if sick, to demonstrate that you care about worker health and safety protections in the workplace. Self-care is important too, including taking up vaccinations if offered and not reporting to work if sick. All these measures are especially important for people who are in public-facing roles.
Fitting in lone worker protection with everyday safety
Here at Lone Worker Solutions, it’s especially important that we take practical steps with all our clients. We always make sure that our lone worker safety system fits in with our clients' existing health and safety policies. But we also need to make sure that Safe Hub is easy and convenient for lone workers to use.
Take for instance working with PPE (personal protective equipment). Some PPE may restrict the ability of lone workers to initiate or respond to lone worker alerts – for instance, hand-resistant hand protection or hearing protection. Lone Worker Solutions always designs a bespoke package of lone worker protection for each of our clients. We’ll ensure we get the right combination of apps and devices by looking at the individual risk assessments of each lone worker on the ground. This will include being able to access emergency help with the minimum delays or respond to alerts from managers in a timely fashion, whatever PPE is in use.
Creating health and safety needs to be a balancing act between sound policies and everyday practical action. As we face an international health alert, it’s practical actions that will take priority. Everyone needs to be thinking about frequent hand washing. But with Lone Worker Solutions and Safe Hub on your side, we’ll make sure that nobody washes their hands of responsibility for lone worker safety.
To find about more about fitting in lone worker protection with a health and safety culture, contact Lone Worker Solutions and the Safe Hub team today
Post by Georgia Parsons
Georgia is Account Executive at Lone Worker Solutions (LWS). She introduces new clients to Safe Hub, our award-winning system to protect and monitor lone workers. Safe Hub is a package of buddy, proactive, reactive, broadcast and virtual barrier protection for lone workers. The system supports lone and remote workers on the widest possible array of BS8484:2016 Gold Certified devices, including Android, Apple and Windows smartphones, BlackBerrys, standard mobiles, PCs, intrinsically safe devices, specialist personal safety devices and satellite phones.