What lone workers need to know
Lone workers need health and safety measures in place which are specific to working alone to ensure they keep safe each day. In this article we explore the reasons behind this need, addressing common questions, with a focus on explaining what we believe all outdoor lone workers should know.
Why do lone workers need protection?
Lone workers may be exposed to significant risk – 1) simply because they work alone and 2) because they may behave differently to workers in teams, as lone workers typically take more risks. Injuries for lone workers seem to be worse than for those who work in teams.
Working outdoors in rural, isolated or hazardous locations usually means the job carries higher risks due to the very nature of the work and the location. To compound this, if there is an incident which causes harm, the lack of support and access to help may increase the impact of the incident. An injury that could be dealt with easily and quickly in a populated, urban environment suddenly becomes serious and potentially life threatening in an isolated place. Having the ability to communicate with someone should an incident occur is essential.
Who has the duty of care?
In short, employers and workers both have responsibilities. Employers have the collective responsibility for all their workers, which includes employees, self employed and contractors, for their health, safety and welfare. Employers need to ensure there are preventive and protective measures in place so that each worker is able to work safely. They have to comply with all health and safety laws and failure to do so can result in fines up to £1 million or, in extreme cases, prison sentences as well.
Workers also hold an individual duty of care to themselves and to others while they work. This means they must act with professional responsibility when on site, which could require undertaking training, staying up to date with health and safety legislation and reporting any hazards, near misses or incidents that occur on site. We recommend that lone workers draw upon their previous experiences to contribute to the development of health and safety policies and procedures. Offering such advice will enable the employer to reduce risks by creating practical, robust health and safety protocols.
How do you correctly conduct risk assessments?
The particular risks faced by a lone worker depend upon the industry they work in, the job they do, the locations they work in and the individual themselves. For these reasons employers need to undertake an individual risk assessment for each lone worker; these are a valuable health and safety tool to identify and evaluate the potential severity of the risks in each specific working environment.
Undertaking risk assessments and monitoring risk usually lies with the line manager. Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recommend that risk assessments should be carried out before anyone is allowed to begin working on site. Employers are required to consult their workforce on health and safety matters and it is good practice to involve the team as the workers will be aware of information and hazards that the manager may not know. This consultation provides the opportunity to raise concerns, agree what the most suitable control measures are and to identify any training needed. Consultation also increases commitment to implementing decisions or actions.
We recommend that all lone workers proactively discuss their risk assessment with their employer / site manager, highlight factors which may not have been taken into consideration, such as a health condition which could impact on how they work alone. We suggest that all lone workers perform a site walk-through of the risk assessment before they begin work, to understand how the control measures work in practice, and give feedback if changes need to be made.
Why would you need a lone worker solution?
In HSE’s lone worker guide ‘Protecting lone workers: How to manage the risks of working alone’, they recommend that all lone workers should have a robust lone worker monitoring system in place as a control measure. An effective means of communication is essential and lone worker solutions help lone workers to communicate with their employer and request assistance if required.
Different lone worker monitoring solutions are suitable for different lone working needs, it is definitely not the case that one fits all. The choice can be confusing as different solutions use different technologies and functionalities… so we recommend your risk assessments are used when comparing different monitoring solutions so you chose the best fit for your lone working needs.
To help you choose we have created a step by step guide, taking you through the key questions to consider when comparing lone worker monitoring solutions, to read more click here.
Is Trackplot the right solution for you ?
Working outdoors in rural and isolated locations makes it hard to keep in touch and not all lone worker solutions can solve this. Trackplot can – it is the preferred lone worker solution designed for people who work outdoors, particularly in remote and hazardous environments. It allows people who work alone to keep in touch wherever they are. Using satellite based GPS technology the Trackplot system offers a range of different communication methods and does not need mobile phone reception to work
Creating a sensible approach to health and safety requires sound policies supported by practical actions. At Trackplot we are here to help provide a safe working environment. We can use your risk assessments to scope a lone worker solution fit for your business operations. For example, our lone worker solution enables lone workers to check in regularly to advise they are safe. Importantly, if the lone worker is incapacitated or unconscious the system provides alerts so the incident can be escalated and the appropriate action taken.
Trackplot recommendations for lone workers
In summary, here are our recommendations for lone workers:
- Communicate any health and safety issues with your employer / site manager including any health conditions that may impact on your ability to lone work.
- Address any concerns regarding your location or working conditions that may increase risks.
- Update any logbooks and report any near misses or incidents that occur on site.
- Keep up to date with the latest health and safety guidelines.
- Contribute to your risk assessment to ensure it is fit for purpose, understand what the risks are and how best to reduce them.
- Understand your lone working needs and communicate these to your employer to ensure the best lone worker monitoring solution is chosen.
- Make sure that all training is completed.