If you are a business owner who employs lone workers then the chances are you have considered the risks that arise from your employees working on their own.
You have a duty of care to your employee to ‘ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all your employees’ as per the Health and Safety at Work etc Act of 1974, which is the primary piece of legislation covering occupational health and safety in Great Britain.
If you have employees who carry out activities in isolation or without close or direct access to supervision then they can be exposed to risk. British Crime Survey statistics show that as many as 150 lone workers are attacked, either physically or verbally, each day. Certain jobs are more prone to risk than others but regardless of the sector, lone workers can be more vulnerable to things such as driving related incidents, theft, sudden illness or abuse.
If you are unable to remove the risk factor involved with working alone then it is important to think about risk reduction strategies in order to establish a safe and healthy working environment for your lone workers.
In order to reduce the risk associated with lone working, you must first consider the type of lone worker that you employ –
– Some lone workers work directly with the general public and therefore are public-acting lone workers.
– Some are mobile lone workers e.g. someone involved in maintenance and repair.
– Some are fixed-site lone workers e.g. someone working in a kiosk or a shop.
After you have identified the type of worker that you employ then you can do a variety of things in order to fulfil the legal obligations required of you.
In the first instance, you must conduct a risk assessment to identify, consider, evaluate. record and review any potential hazards, and the risks that these hazards pose to your lone worker.
You should also develop a lone working policy – an easy to understand and accessible document that will promote a strong safety culture amongst employees.
You should also consider distributing personal safety alarms and use monitoring software.
Finally, it is important that lone workers receive training. This ensures that they have a good knowledge and understanding of primary control strategies enabling them to keep risks to a minimum using isolation and risk reduction strategies. Here at NVC we run a training course specifically for lone workers in order to ensure that your employees feel empowered to make the right decisions in potentially risky situations. At NVC it is our mission to promote good working practices which seek to avoid, defuse and manage challenging behaviours in the workplace. To this effect, we provide a course that will help teach your lone workers how to identify a dangerous situation before it escalates and also how to deal with it – using techniques such as LEAPS, an acronym to help them remember a communication model designed to diffuse confrontational behaviour.
By training your staff you are ensuring that you are doing your level best to adhere to your duty of care as an employee of lone workers by reducing the risks that these invaluable employees face.