Working Alone Safety and Lone Working Risk Assessments

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When employees work or travel alone, it is essential that a lone worker safety policy tracing system is in place that enables the employer and colleagues to know where the lone worker is and who they are with at all times to avoid safety issues.

The employer should carry out a lone worker risk assessment to identify any lone working risks related to the staff, environment or tasks involved in any aspects of the job. Additional gender-related risks should be considered. You should incorporate control measures into safe work systems, and staff should get trained in these areas of their job roles and activities.

Staff should be aware of the risks identified and hazards they face when working and travelling alone. They need to be able to make quick lone worker safety risk assessments which can help decide on any potential issues the situation poses and what necessary measures they should take to avoid danger.

Lone Worker Risk Assessments and Lone Worker Safety

Lone worker risk assessments are an essential part of any business that could have employees working alone and in isolated areas. There are many potential health and safety threats for lone workers, and lone worker safety must get taken seriously. Below are a couple of examples where having a lone worker safety policy could have had a different outcome:

CASE 1

In July 1986, Suzy Lamplugh was a 25-year-old estate agent with Sturgis and Sons based in Fulham, southwest London. At 12:40 pm on July 28th, Suzy left her office to do a house viewing with a man named Mr Kipper. A witness saw a man join her at the empty property on Shorrald’s Road at 1 pm, and then both were seen walking away from the house only a few minutes later. Her manager only reported her missing at 6:45 pm that evening, and Suzy has been missing since. John Cannan has long been suspected of her murder, although never convicted, and Suzy was presumed murdered and declared legally dead in 1993.

Although technology in 1986 was not as advanced as it is today, with mobile devices and GPS, there are lessons to be learned about having a lone worker risk assessment checklist that could potentially avoid similar situations.

CASE 2

In May of 2006, care worker Ashleigh Ewing was stabbed to death while performing a home visit on a patient. Ronald Dixon, who had been diagnosed as suffering from schizophrenia. Mr Dixon was indefinitely detained in a psychiatric unit in 2007 after admitting to manslaughter due to diminished responsibility. An independent review of the incident found that Mr Dixon should have been detained under the Mental Health Act and that Mr Ewing should not have been sent to the patient’s home alone as it compromised his lone worker safety.

CASE 3

A Hemel Hampstead manufacturer got fined £1,000,000 after a lone worker was crushed to death whilst moving a CNC milling machine in April of 2015. Colin Reddish, 48, from Lincolnshire, had insufficient experience and training in completing the task, and the centre of gravity of the machinery had not been adequately assessed. The HSE also found other details of moving the machine had been poorly planned. As a result of these factors, and working alone, Mr Reddish lost his life, which was entirely preventable had lone working risk assessments been completed correctly.

Lone Worker Policy and HSE Lone Working Risk Assessment

Doing an HSE lone working risk assessment to keep your employees safe during their working hours is a responsibility that all employers carry. A lone worker could be a health worker, delivery driver, an engineer, security or cleaning staff, a warehouse worker, or someone working from home.

In light of the pandemic, more employees have been working from home, and lone working risks, you need to consider creating a lone working policy that employees can follow.  Employers should carry out a lone worker assessment to keep employees safe from harm in their work environment during working hours. The associated risks of working alone can vary, from an employee with a medical condition to the possible physical threat from another human being.

As an employer, you have the same health, safety, and welfare responsibilities for employees working from home as those working in a physical business location. Health and safety management within their home environment is one of your legal obligations, and you must follow lone working law.

As an employer, once you have created a working-in isolation risk assessment policy designed to keep staff safe at work, working alone becomes less stressful for you and the employee.

Here are some tips on managing a lone working procedure in different environments.

Lone Working Risk Assessment For Employees Driving

  • A lone working risk assessment could include creating an emergency kit for your car. A coat, first aid kit, torch, spare change, bottled water, and a mobile telephone charger are all advisable.
  • Plan where you will park before you set off when driving to meetings. Park as close to your destination as possible. Consider what the area will be like then, and try to park near street lights if you will be returning after dark.
  • Consider as part of a lone worker risk assessment where the entrances and exits are when parking in a car park. Avoid walking through an isolated car park to get to and from your car.
  • Park away from pillars/barriers. If you can, reverse into your space so you can drive away easily.
  • Be aware of your surroundings when approaching your car; have your keys ready and check that no one is inside. Once in, lock the doors.
  • If you break down, only get out of your car when and if you feel it is safe. Check your surroundings.
  • Not responding to aggression from other drivers can avoid road rage incidents.
  • If the driver of another car forces you to stop and then gets out of their vehicle, keep your engine running, stay in your car with the doors locked and reverse to escape if you need to.

Lone Working Risk Assessment Checklist For Employees Walking

  • Use well-lit, busy streets and the route you know best. Walk against oncoming traffic to remain visible as part of your company’s lone working risk assessment checklist.
  • Avoid badly-lit alleyways, subways, isolated car parks and other potential danger spots. On deserted streets, walk down the middle of the pavement.
  • Act on instinct; if a person or a place makes you uncomfortable, it is better to move away before a problem arises.

Lone Working Risk Assessment Steps for Employees Using Public Transport

  • To prevent waiting around for long periods for public transport, obtain any timetables and fare information before travelling.
  • Plan ahead, e.g. What time does the last bus/train leave? As one of your lone working risk assessment steps, think about how you will get home after going on a working trip.
  • Wait in well-lit areas and near emergency call points and CCTV cameras when waiting for public transport in the hours of darkness.
  • A lone working policy should include being discreet with anything that would make you identifiable as an employee of an organisation (e.g. uniforms/ID badges) that could cause you to receive unwelcome attention from the public (e.g. the armed forces).

Working Alone Risk Assessment Checklist for Employees Using Taxis

  • A working alone risk assessment checklist should include having a list of licensed taxi or minicab companies from your local council.
  • Carry the telephone number of a licensed taxi or minicab firm or add a suitable booking app to your phone.
  • Always book your minicab in advance. Un-booked cabs are illegal and potentially dangerous.
  • When booking, ask for the driver and car details and check them when the taxi arrives. Also, confirm with the driver whose name the taxi is booked under.
  • Ask the taxi to stop in a busy area and let you out if the driver makes you feel uneasy for any reason.
  • Don’t give out personal details when in the taxi to minimise lone working risks.

Lone Worker Policy FAQs

Is there any technology I could use to help ensure lone worker safety within my company?

Yes! Lone worker apps can help protect lone workers, reduce lone worker risks, and make them feel safer when working alone and in isolation. Lone worker apps can be downloaded onto a mobile phone and work as a personal SOS. If you have members of staff that are travelling, working from home, or maybe have a medical condition, these apps are a fantastic way to keep in touch and can get tracked using a GPS signal in case of an emergency. Lone worker safety is an issue that can be minimised by having a good, well-thought-out process in place to ensure easy contact.

What is a good lone working risk assessment example?

Your search engine is the best place to look for an excellent lone working risk assessment example. Use Google, Yahoo, or Bing and type  ‘ working alone risk assessment example.’ You will see multiple downloadable examples on the first page. Lone working risk assessments can vary greatly, but you will be able to gather enough information to create your own unique isolated working policy according to the safety risks that your employees face.

Several of my employees work from home and have asked to have weekly online meetings with the rest of the office-based team as a part of our existing lone working policy. Why might they want this?

For those employees working from home, it may be a case of wanting to feel more involved with what is happening at work. Working from home for long periods and with little contact from work colleagues can negatively affect people and cause mental health issues. It would also allow you to monitor lone workers and ensure that they are doing well and don’t have any problems you should attend to regarding their job role or need direct supervision. When doing a lone working risk assessment, you may just think about the physical lone worker safety measures for slips, trips, or falls. A lone worker procedure, such as weekly meetings or daily check-ins, can positively affect mental health, attitude, and productivity. We would highly recommend that you add this to your lone working policy.

If my employee has a medical condition, what should I add to my lone worker assessment?

Suppose you have an employee that is going to be in a position of working remotely and alone, and they suffer from an existing medical condition. In that case, you’ll need to seek advice from the medical profession. Getting a professional opinion as part of your lone worker assessment would be an excellent place to start. Depending upon what the medical condition is and whether it is progressive and could lead to even more physical or mental burden on the employee are considerations you’ll need to take seriously.