We have all heard the term ‘lone working’ but do we actually understand or appreciate the implications of having inadequate arrangements in place?
At present, there are no specific legal requirements on employers in relation to lone working, but if you do employ people there is a duty to maintain safe working arrangements for them under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The Health and Safety Executive have estimated taht it can cost £20,000 just to investigate a serious workplace incident which puts greater pressure on organisations to ensure their health and safety arrangements are robust.
The HSE defines a ‘lone worker’ as someone who works by themselves without close or direct supervision. This includes people working away from the office base, employees travelling between sites or locations and those who work outside traditional office hours.
It has been determined that ‘lone workers’ could fit into three main categories
- Public facing lone workers - these are people who may be required to meet clients or members of the public
- Mobile lone workers – those who are not based in one location e.g. regional manager
- On site lone workers – these are people who have limited contact with others e.g. a maintenance man or a back office receptionist
Legally employers are obliged to undertake the following activities: -
- Assess the foreseeable risks to the health and safety of employees
- Identify and implement appropriate risk control measures to ensure safety so far as is reasonably practicable
- Provide information to employees on risks and control procedures that affect their personal safety
- Involve employees in the process
- Provide protective and preventative measures to reduce the risks
- Ensure training for all employees
- Provide a safe system of work including procedures for what should be done if an incident arises
Don’t feel all of the onus is on the employer though. The employee has obligations as well. If you provide training an employee is obliged to attend and adhere to what they learned, they must read your policies and procedures, advise you if the measures in place are impractical, report all accidents and near misses and inform their line manager of risks that could compromise safety.
If you employ ‘lone workers’ you may find the services offered by Shieldyourself beneficial. These include undertaking a risk assessment for your business or writing you a policy to deal with these matters. After all its far better to be safe than sorry