We’re proud to be a small company headquartered in the north-west of England. But we’ve very much got a global outlook when it comes to protecting lone workers. Indeed, we operate in several territories other than the UK, including across North America. In this blog, we’re going take a closer look at the USA’s legislative context for US lone worker protection. And as ever, we’ll be focusing on how we can help deliver customised lone worker safety that helps in everyday work practices.
Workplace safety legislation covering US lone worker protection
The Occupational Safety and Health Act 1970 is the primary federal legislation governing worker safety in the USA. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the agency responsible for enforcing this law. Some aspects of health and safety are governed at the state level, so there are slight variations in practice between US states. OSHA is celebrating fifty years of the Act, and is urging employers to make renewed efforts to keep their workers safe and healthy.
In no field is this more important than with lone workers. As elsewhere in developed economies, more workers across the USA are lone workers, regularly out of sight or hearing of their colleagues. There is no general OSHA Standard that deals with employees working alone. The exception is in specific situations such as emergency response, interior structural firefighting, or working in certain confined spaces. Even so, OSHA cites the need for all US employers to have a lone working policy as a general duty. They have a Severe Violator Enforcement Program which enforces regulations – and imposes civil penalties, including fines, for non-compliance.
A snapshot of lone worker safety in 2018
OSHA also compiles safety statistics on workplace death, injury and illness across the USA, alongside the Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS). In calendar year 2018, 5,250 workers died on the job according to BLS figures, equating to 3.5 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers. The construction industry accounted for 21.1% of total fatalities. Excluding deaths on the road, the leading causes of private-sector worker deaths in construction were falls, being struck by objects, electrocution, and being caught in or between equipment or objects. These "Fatal Four" were responsible for 58.6% of construction worker deaths in 2018. While these figures do not indicate how many fatalities were lone workers, it’s reasonable to assume that they accounted for a significant proportion.
As for non-fatal injury and illness, BLS figures showed there were 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by private industry employers in 2018. While these rates have been trending down in recent years, they were flat in 2017. The largest total number of injuries and illnesses was in the health care and social assistance sector. However, in terms of rates per 100,000 workers, the agriculture and transport sectors reported higher rates of injury. Clearly, these sectors are ones where workers are often operating out of sight of colleagues.
Mitigating risks with a comprehensive lone worker safety system
One great way for US employers to protect their lone workers is via a comprehensive safety system such as Safe Hub. Of course, this always needs to work with existing safety and health practice within organisations. Having a lone worker safety device will not in itself solve all the causes of the construction sector’s “Fatal Four”. But it can certainly mitigate the effects of non-fatal injuries by getting urgent assistance to workers who have (for instance) fallen or been struck by an object.
Our user-friendly Safe Hub app works on all smartphones and standard cell phones. And we offer the broadest range of discreet, wearable, satellite, intrinsically safe and rugged devices to US clients. From emergency Red Alert support, through to our US-patented virtual barrier Safe Beacon Feature, we address a range of everyday work risks. As a result, employers with lone workers can be sure there is a perfect fit for every one of their team, whatever their lone working assignment. In short, we offer extensive US lone worker protection that can help to save lives. #OSHA #USLoneWorker #LoneWorkerSafety #CustomisedSafety
For more information about US lone worker protection, 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.