Increasingly in the modern workplace, more and more workers spend some of their working life out of sight or hearing of their colleagues. But many of the roles which were traditionally undertaken in groups or teams are increasingly being carried out by lone workers.
There are a number of reasons for this trend. One is of course technological; more and more roles can be undertaken remotely, as IT improves and digital document management becomes more common. The rise of micro-businesses and self-employment also means that more people are working for themselves in non-traditional workplaces. And there are also pressures to increase productivity or (in the case of the public and not-for-profit sectors) reduce spending by government.
Recent Police Federation report about lone workers
A case in point is policing. A recent report published by the Police Federation highlighted some of the issues involved in working alone in roles which previously would have been undertaken by a minimum of two officers. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-47212662 The survey released by the federation, which represents rank and file officers in England and Wales, suggests almost nine in 10 feared there were not enough of them to manage demand. Meanwhile 76 per cent of respondents from frontline roles reported "often or always" working alone - known as ‘single-crewing’. You can read more on this story here >
In the case of policing, there are huge consequences for morale and mental health. The survey also found nearly eight in 10 officers had felt stress and anxiety within the last 12 months. Some 94 per cent of those officers stated that this was caused or made worse by their job. About 44 per cent of respondents said they viewed their job as "very or extremely stressful", a larger proportion than the 39 per cent in a similar 2016 survey.
Employers must protect and support lone workers
UK laws require employers to protect all their employees, as well as contractors and self-employed workers. Employers must assess the health and safety risks associated with any activity before the work begins. There are no specific laws governing lone working; in short, lone working is not against the law. However, the considerations for planning a safe and healthy working environment for lone and remote workers are often quite different than for other staff.
And of course, emergency services are no exception to this rule. We all want to make sure that the people who look after us in a crisis feel supported and protected in the important work that they do.
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.