Keeping a lone worker safe is part of your legal obligations towards your staff. To keep your lone workers safe, you should have strong lone worker policies, a robust risk assessment, regular lone worker training and make sure your staff are all included in the team. A lone worker solution would help, too.
What Is The Law On Lone Working?
Lone working is not illegal, but your legal obligations as an employer do mean you have to consider the risk of lone working itself.
It’s not that you have to specifically cater for your lone worker because they are lone working, but rather that lone working presents specific hazards that should be addressed and mitigated.
So, if you are wondering how to keep a lone worker safe, read on.
1) Have Strong Policies
A lone worker policy is an absolutely essential document if you have lone workers and should set out the responsibilities of your managers and their teams when working unsupervised.
It should include the process to follow before, during, and after a lone worker task is carried out. This might specify a check-in and out process, the details of a buddy system, and the guidelines around driving alone.
Formulate the policy with the input of the lone workers as they might have an insight you don’t. It is pointless insisting they call into the office if they regularly work in an area of low signal, for example.
Your lone worker policy will help to keep lone workers safe if it is underpinned by other relevant policies, such as an overall health and safety policy, a driving for work policy, and any sector-specific ones, such as COSHH or Safeguarding.
However, a policy is useless if no one knows about it or it isn’t relevant.
Make sure you regularly review and update your policies. If you are ISO9001 accredited, you will be familiar with this process.
Any policy updates should be fed back to staff. Take pains to make sure they have understood the changes. Anyone can fire off an email saying the policy has been updated but taking the effort to verbally brief staff on the changes will help to keep them safe.
2) Have A Lone Worker Risk Assessment
A risk assessment is a legal requirement if you have 5 staff or more. You don’t specifically have to do a lone worker risk assessment, rather you should risk assess all the situations and environments in which an employee could be harmed.
However, as lone working is a hazardous task in itself, a specific lone worker risk assessment is a sensible way of keeping a lone worker safe.
Work with the staff and their managers to assess all their tasks and then take practical steps to reduce the risks.
Like the lone worker policy, you should review and update this regularly, especially if something changes, such as the addition of a new working location.
3) Provide Regular Training
It is likely that you already have a training policy or structure in place for your staff. Adding personal safety training to that routine will go a long way to keeping your lone workers safe.
Best practice would be to train new staff in the basics of personal safety and the lone worker policy as part of their induction.
If your staff are at particular risk when doing certain tasks, make sure you or their line manager draw specific attention to that task and the safety measures they should take.
Regular refresher training for existing staff should also be carried out. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that long-serving staff are following policies to the letter. But longevity breeds complacency and practices might just need sharpening a bit.
Not to mention the fact that you are likely to have amended the policies slightly in the year.
Try to carry out refresher training at least once a year. If you struggle to get all your remote staff in one room at a time, think about doing it as part of a team-building day.
4) Get The Team Onboard
Pulling together as a team is essential if you want to keep your lone workers safe.
If your staff work remotely or in isolation it is easy to feel like no one cares what they do. This can lead to resentment and risk-taking. Lone workers are thought to have worse mental health than those who are supervised and supported by a manager.
Or, it might mean that they gradually stop adhering to policy. It could be that they adopt the mindset of ‘if no one seems bothered, why should I?’
Take measures to ensure your lone workers do not feel isolated or excluded from the team. Regular phone calls, office days, and visits will help to include them.
Another risk of isolated or remote workers is the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality. It’s not that anyone means to forget about them, but busy line managers will often deal with the person who shouts loudest.
If everyone in the team takes responsibility for the safety of each other it is more likely to be spotted sooner that a colleague hasn’t checked in.
Team building days, pizza lunches, and drinks after work might sound like a nightmare if you aren’t social but bringing the team together to socialise will help to keep all the staff safe and well.
5) Consider A Lone Worker Device
A lone worker device is a fob or app that helps to keep your lone workers safe.
It allows them to check in and out electronically, which reduces the need for a colleague to remember the check out time and raise the alarm if it isn’t met. Through the ‘Amber Alert’ function, an alarm will automatically be triggered for a welfare check if your staff do not confirm they are safe by the specified time.
It has GPS tracking on it so, in the event that a team member does go missing they can be traced and rescued.
The ‘Man Down’ feature will trigger an alert if the device detects a sudden impact of fall. This can help to keep safe those who work at heights. It can also help if your colleague is suddenly ill and can’t call for assistance.
The ‘Red Alert’ button will immediately trigger a call to the Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC). An operator will be able to listen in when the call connects and assess the situation. If there is a clear sign of danger or the user requests it they can call the Police using the special fast track service ARCs have, or any other emergency service.
The operator can also speak to the lone worker and, if necessary, call an internal escalation contact to come and support the user.
If you would like to find out more about the First2HelpYou KIT Device, have a look here, or call us on 03337729401 or email [email protected]. Alternatively you can fill in the contact form here and we will get right back to you.