If there’s any organisation that needs to take the health and safety of its lone workers seriously, it’s the NHS. Not only is it the largest employer in the UK, but it relies on taking a person-centred approach to healthcare. Its workers operate in a range of different environments, from hospitals and surgeries to working at home or in community settings.
We’ve decided to recognise this scale and variety by launching a series of blogs about lone working in the NHS. This week, we look at why supporting lone workers in the healthcare sector is so important. And we’ll outline how Lone Worker Solutions is on hand to help.
How the NHS defines lone working
NHS Protect is currently the body which leads on work across the NHS to protect staff from crime. (We’ll be looking at how this work is changing in a later blog). Their definition of lone working is: ‘any situation or location in which someone works without a colleague nearby; or when someone is working out of sight or earshot of another colleague.’ NHS Protect also points out that lone working is not unique to any particular staff group, working environment or time of day.
Put more simply, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) defines lone workers as ‘those who work by themselves without close or direct supervision.’ For instance, it includes people who undertake shifts or work outside normal working hours, but also people who work alone from or within a central office. A common category is for people who work in direct contact with the public, especially when they don’t have immediate access to standard emergency services. And of course, it also covers people who work remotely from home.
Responsibility for protecting lone workers in the NHS
All organisations in the UK have a legal duty for the security and safety of staff working alone. Various health and safety legislation requires employers to consider carefully the specific risks which an individual faces in lone working scenarios. In extreme cases, corporate manslaughter legislation has been used to prosecute for failing in this duty of care to employees.
Under the NHS Standard Contract 2016-17, NHS organisations have to make proper provisions for security management. NHS organisations’ boards are responsible for ensuring that appropriate policies, systems, procedures and physical security measures are in place for the protection of lone workers. Local Security Management Specialists (LSMSs) are will develop strategies locally, in conjunction with the relevant stakeholders, including staff and management representatives. And line managers of those who work alone must ensure that policies and procedures are adhered to. At heart, this is about creating a culture of health and safety for lone workers.
Risky situations for lone workers
Currently, across the NHS, there are problems in creating this safe environment. One of the key concerns is the failure to protect workers from violence in dealing with often distraught members of the public.
The most recent figures for 2015-16 show that there were 70,555 physical assaults against NHS staff in England. The proportion of lone workers sustaining injury from a physical assault is approximately 9% higher than for those not working alone. What’s more, the incidents affecting lone workers are on average more severe. Following an incident, almost 50% of lone worker-related physical assaults are reported to the police, against just over 10% for supervised workers.
For lone workers, there are other potential hazards than physical assault, however. For instance, what happens if a lone worker themselves has a health crisis in an environment where they cannot immediately contact the appropriate emergency support? If a community worker is travelling to see a client, what happens if they have an accident?
Lone Worker Solutions: the practical way to help
One of the key ways in which NHS managers can take a proactive approach to fulfilling their responsibilities is via technology. This is where Lone Worker Solutions is on hand to provide support. We’ll be looking in more detail in future blogs at some of the specific ways in which our products and services can help. But we’re proud of the fact that we already work with some NHS agencies. Find out more about our recent deployment of lone worker devices and apps with NHS Colchester.
Look out for future blogs in this series. In coming weeks, we’re going to focus on some of the lone working roles across NHS bodies. We’ll be taking a detailed look at the structures that are in place to support lone workers, and the legislation which backs them up. And we’ll be exploring how local NHS organisations can work with their employees to safeguard their lone workers. But in the meantime, if you work in the NHS and have any questions about Lone Worker Solutions and our services – contact us today!
About Lone Worker Solutions
Our business is about protecting employees, managers and shareholders from the risks associated with working alone. Safe Hub, our award-winning BS8484 2016 Gold certified platform ensures help is directed to the worker's location in the fastest possible time. Safe Hub is a secure web-based management system that communicates with a suite of integrated safety applications, offering organisations complete protection for lone workers. This proprietary platform provides a lone worker monitoring to determin location, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
By giving clients an accurate cross-device snapshot of system activity, the portal offers precise and prompt reporting to ensure compliance with Health and Safety legislation requirements. Across organisations deploying Safe Hub, a robust health and safety culture facilitates auditing and corporate governance, so that they can be the best employers they can be. Talk to us today to find out how we can help you meet your commitments to your lone and remote workers.
Contact Lone Worker Solutions and the Safe Hub team today Call: +44-(0)161 885 2122
Post by George Stavrinidis.
Chief Executive Officer of Lone Worker Solutions (LWS). George 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.
About Lone Worker Solutions
At Lone Worker Solutions, our business is about protecting employees, managers and shareholders from the risks associated with working alone. This includes the potential hazards faced by staff who work by themselves, remotely, or out-of-sight or earshot of colleagues. When it comes to safety we don't believe in a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, instead we tailor our solution to each organisation's exact needs.
About Safe Hub
Safe Hub is an award-winning BS8484 2016 Gold Certified package of emergency, proactive and reactive protection for lone workers. Safe Hub supports lone and remote workers on the widest possible array of devices including Android, Apple and Windows smartphones, BlackBerry, standard mobiles, PCs, intrinsically safe devices, specialist personal safety devices and satellite phones.