In the UK it’s estimated that over 6 million of us are lone workers, but what does this mean and what exactly counts as lone working?
According to the Health and Safety Executive, by definition a lone worker is someone who works by themselves without close or direct supervision.
Lone Workers are all around us, they are the nurses working in the community, the shopkeepers in our local store, the engineer that fixes our faulty boiler and the delivery driver that brings us a takeaway.
For somebody to be a lone worker it doesn’t mean they have to be completely alone in isolation all of the time. If an employee cannot be seen or heard by a colleague then they are technically lone working, even if it’s just for a brief period of time.
In fact, most of us have probably found ourselves lone working from time to time without even realising it.
The danger with working alone is that if something were to go wrong (such as an accident, injury, sudden illness or assault) it makes it harder or even impossible for an individual to seek help. Someone by themselves could also be seen as an easier target for anybody wishing to cause harm.
For these reasons, employers are advised to take precautions to ensure their lone workers are monitored and looked after – especially if they encounter risks such as working at height, around large vehicles, heavy machinery or hazardous substances.
Personal safety devices are commonly issued to staff for scenarios when they are working alone so that they can alert others fast if there’s a problem.
To help employers establish whether they have lone workers, we’ve produced a quick reference checklist. If you can answer yes to the following then your organisation employs lone workers and you’ll need to take sufficient steps to protect them.
Of course, these questions are not an exhaustive list but they do provide a good starting point. The best way for employers to get the full picture, is to speak to their employees so they have a clear understanding of what their roles entail and to what extent they involve lone working.