Lone working from fixed establishments or work away from a fixed base involves a lot of safety risk.
Fixed establishments are small shops, kiosks, working from home and or working separately from others in a factory.
Work away from a fixed base can be agriculture or forestry work, service work such as collection of rent, repair and maintenance work, or work for social workers.
In the UK alone, an estimate of more than 8 million people is lone workers. And the figure alone amounts to 22% out the 31.2 million working population of the UK.
In other words, 8 million people and above in the UK are being exposed to safety risks and hazards associated with lone working. And that’s a very great number of people.
Nevertheless, here is a list of what you need to know about lone working.
- What is lone working?
- Where can you see lone working Jobs?
- The protection an employer can offer to lone workers.
- Conclusion: What you need to know about lone working
What is lone working?
Lone working is defined as those who work for themselves without direct supervision.
The work exposes the workers to work alone, and they could be in a separate location than the rest of the other workers.
Lone working is legal but companies have legal obligation to protect their workers and to promote health and safety effectively.
And any failure to do so could attract a fine or penalty.
Where can you see lone working jobs?
Here is a list of many jobs and industries lone working can be found.
- In Construction: The managers, site workers, the surveyors, and inspectors. These workers do engage in lone working as a result of their job.
- In utilities such as maintenance workers and meter readers that work in water, gas or Electricity Company.
- In Transportation: People like Vehicle drivers and warehouse staff.
- Social and health- People like nurses, social workers, and doctors that are likely to visit people in their homes to perform their services.
- Housing -People like estate agents, sales workers that visit their clients in their homes and other neighbourhood offices.
The protection an employer can offer to lone workers.
Every Employer has to protect workers working with them. And such should be extended to lone workers.
Measures should be put in place to mitigate any risk to health and safety during the work.
For instance, to create a measure for accidents from slip trip and fall. Or when a worker suddenly feels ill or loses consciousness while working.
There have been cases of a lone worker disappearing from work and nowhere to be seen again. And if there are strict measures, such would not have happened or occurred.
Below is a list of things the employer could do to protect workers doing lone working.
Personal safety system alarms.
With the use of Personal safety system alarms, cases of workers disappearing during lone working could be avoided.
And this serves as one of the effective protection ways for a lone worker. It gives protection by allowing users to raise an alarm should something happen.
The product comes in the form of mobile phone apps, handheld satellite system and other wearable technologies.
The company could have a comprehensive risk assessment for jobs requiring lone working and it can be quite beneficial for workers.
Risk assessment for lone working is simply investigating the potential hazards of lone working and assessing the risk involved both to the worker and the employer And to avoid the risk or to offer control measures for the risks and hazards observed:
- To avoid the risks:
The employer has to make sure that at least one person is present to assist the lone worker. And where this could be possible would be in a high-risk environment such as in confined spaces. A supervisor or someone designated with an emergency rescue role can be in such an area.
- To control the risk:
Since some risks can’t be avoided, the employer has to control it by providing information, instructions and training to the worker. And also provide supervision and personal protective equipment.
Training on lone working have to be conducted, and those not trained on the skills for lone working shouldn’t be allowed to expose themselves to such a job.
The training will offer skills to workers on how to prevent panicking in an unusual situation when lone working. And to expose workers to the risk and other precautions they need to know
A lone worker needs to be supervised periodically. The level of supervision depends on the risk level of the job. The higher the risk, the more the level of supervision needed.
There could be regular contact of the lone worker with the supervisor through phone, radio, or an email. And there could be a check to ensure that the worker has returned safely to their base, home or office after completing their task.
Carrying out a medical examination and workers that have one health challenge that would increase their risk to lone working is not to be engaged for such a work.
Certain conditions that would prevent a worker in engaging in such a work should be listed out.
Foreseeable emergencies that might affect a lone worker should be listed out. And adequate procedures to ensure what to do should be put in place.
Adequate training for this should be carried out and properly documented.
Most importantly, First aid facilities should be made available for lone workers with first aid kit if need be and to consider training on first aid.
Conclusion: What you need to know about lone working.
Even though lone working is legal and it involves a lot of risk for the worker but an employer has a legal obligation to protect all workers against harm or injury.
The employer does these things by putting adequate health and safety measures to encourage safe lone working: such as developing a risk assessment for lone working, provision of first aid facilities and emergency procedures.
Conducting training and medical examination and giving out knowledge and information to guide the workers in case of an unfavourable panic situation during their work.
Supervision and adequate checks on the worker at periodic intervals and even after the work will help to ensure that the lone worker returns his base after the work closure.
Onyeka Emma is a QHSE Professional, a business person, and an entrepreneur. He is very passionate about health and safety, Business and Entrepreneurship.