Considerations to keep home workers and lone workers safe in the current COVID-19 crisis
Normal working conditions have been radically altered within the course of one week. With many workers now working from home and increased pressure on existing outdoor lone workers we’ve summarised what you need to consider to keep your workers safe.
New HSE guidelines for lone working
You may not be aware that home workers should be treated as lone workers. As a result of last week’s guidance from government suddenly the vast majority of, if not all, employers have gained a workforce of lone workers to keep safe.
Within this last month HSE (Health and Safety Executive) published their latest guidelines on lone working, “Protecting lone workers: How to control the risks of working alone (March 2020)”. This includes in-depth information on the responsibilities of both employers and employees; managing risks; health and wellbeing; training, supervision and monitoring, to ensure you comply with the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations.
HSE recognise that there are many forms of lone working and inherently lone workers are more at risk than those working in a group. In an ideal world, HSE recommend that you identify all the potential risks before workers begin lone working, which could be wide ranging depending on the worker, their tasks and the environment in which they work. HSE state that all risks must be identified, assessed and managed straight away.
All employers of lone workers must be aware that, regardless of where your employees are working, the duty of care lies with the employer and the legal responsibilities of the Health and Safety at Work Act still have to be upheld.
Working from home – the new fleet of lone workers
HSE states that working from home is a form of lone working and, although this may not seem as risky as other types of lone working, the risks must nevertheless be considered and controlled. If you have employees now home working HSE guidelines recommend that they are also provided with the same duty of care as outdoor lone workers.
Employers should be aware of the working conditions of each home worker such as their working area and equipment as well as their wellbeing. Historically, home workers have identified feelings of isolation from their organisation due to a lack of communication and involvement, which can be compounded with feelings of frustration if the worker does not have the equipment, set-up or support they need to fulfil their duties.
Changes to your outdoor lone worker hours and conditions
In the current climate there may be added pressure on the existing outdoor lone workers in your business. There may be members of your workforce directly affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, either on sickness absence, in self-isolation or having to cover childcare which prevents them from working. The impact may be an increased workload and increased working hours for the remaining team members you have.
Further reading is available here.
Not enough staff to buddy
Social distancing policies and a limited workforce may mean usual buddying practices cannot be implemented. Changing to lone working is an option and requires risk assessments to be undertaken and safety measures and monitoring put in place.
Controlling risks and monitoring
HSE advise that the most appropriate method of control is to monitor your lone workers with a robust monitoring system. Regular communication is essential for all types of lone working so the lone worker can keep in touch and the employer knows they are safe. The HSE guidance suggests this is best achieved using a system which offers the ability to ‘check in’ at regular intervals. This approach works across all scenarios of lone working from remote locations to working from home.
How Trackplot can help
Trackplot is a complete lone worker monitoring solution which is easy and quick to deploy.For home workers we recommend the Trackplot App which can be downloaded and used instantly from a smartphone.For outdoor lone workers we recommend the GPS and satellite enabling option, particularly for those working in rural or isolated areas with unreliable mobile phone coverage.
To find out more about how Trackplot can help you and your lone workers email firstname.lastname@example.org