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SureSafe offers a range of lone worker devices designed to keep lone workers, or ‘at risk’ workers, safe. SureSafe offers tailored solutions to fit both your employees risk needs, as well as fit your organisation's operational needs. SureSafe allows employees to call for help in an emergency, tracks their location via GPS in case they get into any difficulty, can detect falls should employees have an accident, and helps you satisfy your workplace health and safety requirements.

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Lone working procedures

Article by Daniel Westhead Daniel Westhead Sure Safe Alarms

People working alone is becoming more common in the UK workforce, and for employers, understanding who a lone worker is, and what procedures need to be in place to protect them, is becoming increasingly important.

A lone worker is a person who works by themselves with little or no supervision, this can range from an employee, a contractor to anyone who is self-employed.

It is estimated that there are currently 8 million lone workers in the UK, and this number is increasing year on year as working habits evolve - with factories turning to automation, working practices turning to both hybrid and remote solutions and shift patterns changing, solitary work is becoming more and more common.

Employers are legally responsible for the health and safety and the wellbeing of their employees and therefore they need to assess whether lone working is something that is essential to their business. While having employees who work alone may in many cases be unavoidable due to the nature of the business, where other options are available it’s always wise to undertake lone worker risk assessments to best understand whether choosing for your employees to work in teams may be the better choice.

With lone working comes a variety of risks and possible danger, meaning there is an increased responsibility on the employer to ensure that their lone workers are safe when undertaking their day-to-day tasks. Having a robust procedure is essential and should be best practice for anyone with lone workers in their workforce.

With this in mind, we explore lone working procedures.

Why are lone working procedures necessary

There are a variety of reasons why lone working procedures should be put in place, and there is a benefit to both parties. For the employer, it is a legal requirement to keep their staff safe. Employers have a duty to:

  • identify health and safety risks;

  • put reasonably practicable measures in place to ensure safe working conditions; and

  • equip employees with information and training to fulfil their responsibilities for their own safety under the law.

It is not the responsibility of the employee to ensure their safety, and this role can never be transferred to them.

For the employee these procedures are vitally important. Working alone carries an element of risk, their job itself may not be any riskier than a non-lone worker, but the fact that they are alone with no one to help them should they come unstuck is where the high risk comes into play.

Risk factors fall into three categories:

  1. Risk from others - being attacked as they can be seen as an easy target.

  2. Risk from their environment - for example working with heavy machinery or heavy materials.

  3. Task based risk - this is more common for people working at height such as a roofer or tree surgeon.

How to put in place lone working procedures

There are several ‘Lone working rules’ that need to be adhered to, these rules should help give employees a guide when it comes to putting their own procedures in place. These are the main action points for the employer:

  1. Consult workers when considering potential hazards and measures to avoid/control them

  2. A Risk Assessment should be carried out to consider the risks associated with the lone working. A consultation should be had with the worker to outline any potential risks. This risk assessment should include any hazards from the normal work that employee carries out as well as the hazards that occur due to the employee being alone. Risks to include are:

  • Accident and/or emergencies arising out of the work including sudden illness

  • Availability of first aid equipment

  • Cash handling

  • Communication

  • Driving and vehicle breakdowns

  • Exposure to hazardous materials

  • Fire / explosion

  • Manual handling

  • Poor illumination

  • Provision of rest, hygiene and welfare facilities

  • Risk of violence and / or aggression from clients and other members of the public

  • Social isolation and stress

  • Specific risk from the workplace e.g. temporary access equipment, working on the highway, working on cliff tops, working near water

  • Theft and intruders

Other things that will need be considered by the employee include:

  • Emergency out of hours response activities, especially in adverse weather conditions

  • Dealing with unpredictable client behaviours and situations

  • Severe weather conditions

  • Unknown workplace or area

  • Use of tools and machinery

  1. When a risk assessment has been completed, a lone working system and procedure, should be implemented

  2. Take steps to check adequate control measures are in place - such as training, supervision, lone worker devices and issuing protective equipment

  3. Review risk assessments annually

What types of workers need lone working policies

Lone working does not necessarily mean that the person must be working in complete isolation all of the time. For example, a health worker may be surrounded by lots of colleagues in the daytime, but during their night shift they may find themselves alone.

Some examples of lone workers included:

  • People working at home

  • Workers in the energy industry or oil and gas Industry

  • Construction workers

  • Mobile workers such as door-to-door salesmen, truck drivers, health visitors, repair technicians

  • People who work in any type of manufacturing facility

  • People working outside normal hours such as security guards, cleaners

  • Utility workers such as meter readers or technicians

  • Self-employed people

  • People who work apart from their colleagues such as receptionists, retail clerks, service station attendants

  • Estate agents

  • Home care nurses

How personal alarms can be part of a lone working procedure

One way that employers have started to mitigate against the dangers of lone working is with the use of personal alarms. A personal alarm that calls for help if a lone worker gets into difficulty can make all the difference should an accident occur.

At SureSafe we provide a range of personal alarms that can help you to keep your lone workers safe, with some specific features that will ensure that, should one of your employees who are working alone get into difficulty, help is at hand.

Personal alarm features for lone workers

GPS Tracking

If you have employees who work in external locations GPS tracking is the ideal way in which you can find them easily should they have an emergency. Lone worker alarms with GPS tracking give you and your employees peace of mind.

Automatic fall detection

Following a fall, our alarms with fall detection will raise the alarm, even if the wearer is unable to press the SOS button. These are appropriate to use for those working at height or with heavy materials, machinery or chemicals. Ensuring an employee has one can mitigate against task-based incidents that will have been highlighted in a risk assessment.

In addition, our lone worker alarms can be either self-monitored - meaning that there is no ongoing fee to pay, emergency calls go directly to designated company employees e.g. shift managers, security or line managers. Or you can opt for our 24/7 lone worker monitoring service which gives you the peace of mind that, should one of your employees have an emergency, there is always someone on hand to raise the alarm.

If you are considering ways to help monitor and ensure the safety of your lone workers, our team can help you to identify the best lone worker alarm for your business. So please do get in touch with us on 0800 112 3201 for more information.

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