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What Are the Rules on Lone Working in the UK?

Article by Daniel Westhead Daniel Westhead Sure Safe Alarms
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The percentage of lone workers in the UK has largely increased over the last few years. In fact, around 20% of the total workforce is currently classed as lone workers.

Lone workers are employees, including contractors and self-employed people, who do not have direct supervision when carrying out their duties. This can include people who work in a warehouse, delivery drivers, estate agents and remote workers, to name a few lone worker scenarios.

Given that 1/5 people in the UK work alone or without direct supervision, it is important that lone workers are protected by their employers to ensure their safety. So, what are the rules on lone working in the UK?

Who is classed as a lone worker?

In today’s world, most companies employ at least one type of lone worker. Lone workers may include, but are not limited to:

  • Delivery drivers
  • Social workers
  • Teachers
  • Home carers or healthcare practitioners
  • Hospitality workers
  • Salespeople
  • Security
  • Estate agents
  • Utility workers
  • Retail workers
  • Construction workers
  • Remote office staff

UK lone working policy

While there is not yet a specific lone worker policy in the UK, there are two primary legislations that cover occupational health and safety, which are the following: the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

Under these regulations, employers have a legal obligation to assess workplace risks and take preventative measures, which means they must introduce proper procedures when risks are identified. These legislations recognise that, with common sense and adequate management practices, employers should implement reasonable safety policies. It is sensible for companies to create a robust lone working policy that can be referred to and used as guidance for employees who work alone, or without direct supervision.

How can we protect lone workers in the UK?

Lone workers are more vulnerable, depending on the nature of their work, because there isn’t any direct supervision or anyone who can help them if things do go wrong.

Of course, risk by its nature cannot always be foreseen, but implementing good safety measures and policies can help to protect lone workers. A few of the ways employers could protect their lone workers include:

Conducting a lone worker risk assessment

Employers should identify any environmental or social risks or problems that could arise for their lone workers. Environmental risks include injuries or accidents from slips, trips, falls, blunt trauma, as well as any health emergencies such as a stroke, epileptic seizure, or heart attack. Social risks are those that employees may encounter when interacting with the public, such as verbal or physical abuse. Companies should also periodically re-evaluate the risks of lone workers.

Training lone workers

Training is an integral part of any business, company, or organisation – it can boost employees’ confidence as they feel prepared to handle problems and get things done. It can also make staff feel more valued and looked after by their employer, thus increasing their contentment at work. Lone worker training could include:

  • Informing lone workers about workplace hazards
  • If applicable, training workers on how to use machinery and equipment
  • Checking on your employee’s physical and mental health to ensure they can work under lone conditions
  • Training employees on how to use a lone worker monitoring system (more information below)
  • First aid training

Implement a lone working policy

A lone working policy should be clear and robust and should set out your company’s rules on working alone and help your employees to understand the risks they may face.

Encourage cooperation between lone workers and their colleagues

Managing staff should always be aware of the activities, location, and schedule of their lone workers. Lone working alarms can be great for ensuring the safety of employees, but other things that can help ensure daily communication include:

  • Managers should know the address of their lone workers, and where their tasks are going to be carried out in case of emergency
  • Details of any people they are going to visit (for estate agents, electricians etc.)
  • The exact time they left office and when they are expected to return
  • Having each other’s telephone numbers and other ways of communication
  • Ensuring mobile phones are fully charged and nearby

Invest in a lone worker monitoring system

All lone workers can benefit from having a lone worker monitoring device with them. Additionally, knowing the whereabouts of your lone worker employees and ensuring that you have a good monitoring system implemented will help you to quickly identify any issues.

A survey conducted by Hytera Communications and Health and Safety at Work magazine revealed that many lone workers were being sent out without appropriate communications equipment. What’s more, nearly 82% said they relied on mobile phones as their main source of communication, which can not only be dangerous and distracting, but you may not receive signal coverage in remote locations to call for help if needed.

Our lone worker alarms are designed to keep people safe at work whilst being comfortable, reliable, and easy to use. These are just a few of the benefits of a SureSafe lone worker alarm can include:

  • GPS Tracking – lets your emergency contacts know your location if you get into an emergency. For those whose jobs are set around being ‘out and about’, such as plumbers, delivery drivers and construction workers, this is a particularly helpful feature as you can get the help you need fast, wherever you are.
  • Automatic Fall Detection – for those who work in manual jobs, this is a vital feature to have in your lone worker alarm, however, it is also an important feature for those who suffer from specific health conditions such as epilepsy, which can cause seizures, falls or blackouts. With automatic fall detection, should the device detect a fall, it will call for help automatically without the employee needing to press the SOS button.
  • Talking Pendant – this feature has a speaker and microphone built into the lone worker alarm which allows you to have a two-way conversation between you and your nominated contacts or one of our SureSafe operators. This can make all the difference if your mobile phone is out of reach as you can easily and clearly speak to someone through your lone worker alarm.

We have a variety of styles and types of lone worker alarms to choose from, including simple one-touch buttons which can be worn as a pendant around the neck or as a wristband, to sophisticated smart watch devices.

Lone worker monitoring

If you are considering a lone worker personal alarm system, you should consider which type of monitoring suits your business:

Self-monitored lone worker alarms

This is a suitable option for lone employees who are near each other, such as supermarket workers or estate agents, as someone can be there to help quickly if needed. A self-monitored lone worker device will automatically call a selected list of people at the click of a button in the event of an accident or emergency. They do not require an ongoing subscription so are an affordable solution for businesses with smaller budgets.

24/7 monitored lone worker alarms

These devices are connected to a professional monitoring team who are available 24/7 to get the help needed should a lone worker raise their alarm. This solution is ideal for businesses with a diverse remote workforce that faces different types of hazards, as well as those where employees are located far away from each other, such as remote office staff, delivery drivers or utility workers. Additionally, businesses may not have the resources available to constantly monitor and respond to calls for help, so having access to our 24/7 help centre could be the answer.

Call SureSafe's team of Lone Working experts on 0800 112 3201 to learn more about how you can help keep your team safe when at work.

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