Do you employ people who work alone at your premises? If so, have you considered the potential risks posed to both their safety and your business? Venturesec recently published an article highlighting the dangers of lone working including preventive measures. We added a few additional sources of information on how to protect your employees.
Who are lone workers?
HSE (Health and Safety Executive) defines a lone worker as someone who works by themselves without close or direct supervision.
Lone workers include those who:
- work from a fixed base, such as one person working alone on a premises (eg. shops, petrol stations etc);
- work separately from others on the same premises (eg. security staff) or work outside normal hours;
- work away from a fixed base (eg. maintenance workers, health care workers, environment inspectors);
- work at home (homeworkers); and
- mobile workers (eg. taxi drivers).
Why is protecting lone workers especially important?
According to HSE, the number of people working alone is increasing - as automation spreads in factories and offices, solitary work is becoming more frequent. The growing practice of sub-contracting, outplacement and teleworking also add to the growth of lone working.
Lone work does not automatically imply a higher risk of violence, but it is generally understood that working alone does increase the vulnerability of workers. Moreover, this vulnerability will depend on the type of situation in which the lone work is being carried out.
As Venturesec also pointed out, research shows that lone or late night workers are placed at a greater risk of crime, as an easy target for anyone considering breaking in to the workplace. With nobody around to offer backup - particularly at night - your goods, equipment and any cash stored on site are at risk of being damaged or stolen, as well as putting the safety of your employees in jeopardy.
Advice on keeping lone workers safe
With all that to consider, HSE encourages business owners and managers to be cautious when employing lone workers, and weigh up all the possible issues and eventualities which may arise – for example, a medical emergency or burglary.
The HSE has also released some valuable advice to keep lone workers healthy and safe. ‘Working Alone: Health and safety guidance on the risks of lone working’ aims to help employers understand what they need to do to comply with their legal duties towards lone workers.
Following these guidelines is not compulsory, but employers are legally responsible for the health, safety and welfare at work of all their workers – even those who are employed on a contract or self-employed basis, which means that the protection of lone workers is certainly not something which should be taken lightly.