Legal Responsibilities for Organisations with Lone Workers

Legal Responsibilities for Organisations with Lone Workers

Protecting lone workers is a legislative requirement for employers. The considerations for planning a safe and healthy working environment are often different for lone workers than for other staff. Lone working is not against the law, but the law requires employers to review the health and safety implications and risks associated with these activities before the work begins. That’s why deploying a lone worker protection system such as Safe Hub is the best way for most organisations to meet their responsibilities towards their lone workers.

Primary Legislation

The primary piece of legislation covering occupational health and safety in Great Britain is the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, and later amendments as well as the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

The law is designed to include employees, contractors and self-employed workers, and of course, covers lone workers. The UK Health and Safety Executive defines lone workers as “those who work by themselves without close or direct supervision”. It is essential to have a robust policy which codifies your organisation’s rules and regulations around lone working, in line with the legal requirements. And, it is advisable to nurture a culture which places health and safety at the heart of the business.

Directors’ Responsibilities

It is the role of the directors to take the lead in developing their company’s approach to health and safety. This means setting the agenda around staff and customer protection; and preparing policies, procedures and company rules to define risk around job roles.

Directors are expected to put in place practical barriers to risk without stymieing productivity. The aim is to minimise exposure to the risk of accident or injury and to ensure staff take action immediately if something does go wrong. The company should develop a positive attitude to disclosure, encouraging employees to actively raise safety issues and not work in any conditions or under circumstances that present an unacceptable risk.

Some duties are prohibited from being undertaken by lone workers and employers must make sure they know which rules apply to their industry. Prohibited tasks include (but are not limited to), those that involve diving operations, transporting explosives, and fumigation work. Employers must consult their workers on matters relating to health and safety, and this process must take place before the policy is established.

Directors must ensure risk assessments have been conducted thoroughly across the business. The risk assessment will help with planning an appropriate level of supervision. Organisations with five or more employees must record the ‘significant findings’ of all risk assessments.

Sentencing Guidelines

A change in the consequences for organisations found to be in breach of their Duty of Care to employees was represented by the introduction of the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007. This legislation codified the idea that a company can be deemed guilty of corporate manslaughter if there is a ‘failure of the management system’. New sentencing guidelines were introduced in November 2015 and came into force on 1 February 2016.

The guidelines are designed to deliver proportionate, fair and consistent penalties for organisations and individuals convicted of breaches of the relevant legislation. At the time, Sentencing Council member Michael Caplan QC said: “These guidelines will introduce a consistent approach to sentencing, ensuring fair and proportionate sentences for those who cause death or injury to their employees and the public or put them at risk. These offences can have very serious consequences and it is important that sentences reflect these.” The first prosecution resulted in the convicted company being fined ten percent of its annual turnover for ten years.

Further sources of information

Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974

Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

Health & Safety Executive guide 'Working alone in safety'

Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007

Health and Safety Offences, Corporate Manslaughter and Food Safety and Hygiene Offences Definitive Guideline

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.

About Lone Worker Solutions

At Lone Worker Solutions, it’s our business to protect 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, buddy, proactive, reactive, broadcast and virtual barrier protection for lone workers. Safe Hub supports lone and remote workers on the widest possible array of devices including Android, Apple and Windows smartphones, BlackBerrys, standard mobiles, PCs, intrinsically safe devices, specialist personal safety devices and satellite phones.