- It makes good sense to have a lone worker policy in place
A lone worker is someone who works by themselves, potentially in remote settings without the immediate ability to communicate with others. There are inherent risks associated with lone working, from falls and accidents that may render the worker immobile, to other outside or third-party hazards.
Given the potential risks of lone working, UK businesses overwhelmingly choose to put in place a clear policy that enforces safety measures for lone workers and their managers.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all lone worker policy as each employee will encounter different types of risks. For some, the risks may come from environmental dangers such as handling hazardous materials. Other workers may be exposed to the potential threat of violence from members of the public or volatile clients.
In many cases, however, the everyday risk factors such as trips, falls, or health-related issues are probably the things you should consider first when writing the document.
- A good lone worker policy starts with risk assessments
Before you write the policy, you need to gather all the information you can find about the potential risks that your employees could encounter. It would be worthwhile speaking directly to the lone worker so you can get his or her opinion. They may highlight to you potential risks that you are currently unaware of or may not consider from a headquarters / head office perspective.
Moreover, by involving employees in creating the document, they will feel encouraged right from the start to engage with your policy and follow it once it’s in place.
Remember you want this document to be useful in the day-to-day work life of the employee. It can’t just be a token piece of paperwork taken out and looked at every three months.
Potential risks could be caused by the employees’ work location, the equipment they use, the activities they carry out, or even the threat of violence they could face.
Finally, going back into a work environment for lone workers after the pandemic, new hazards can be identified where there were none before. So, be careful to update your risk assessments based on new safety guidelines in the new health context.
- What outside assistance might be required?
Lone workers may often be faced with situations where they need outside assistance – from a colleague or a third party. This is why your policy should cover a plan of action that includes triggering the alarm or communicating remotely.
Between an incident occurring and outside help becoming available, there is a vital step in between, around alerts – especially with nobody on-site or supervising.
A lone worker device may be the right fit. If something goes wrong, this will allow the worker to notify someone that they need help. It can even detect a slip, trip or fall, removing the worry of an employee unable to raise an alert themselves. If employees are alone at night, a monitoring centre might be better placed to pick up an alert than a sleeping manager.
If you decide that a device can provide a more robust protection level, you must make it a part of your policy and train employees to carry it with them when working alone.
- Be honest about monitoring of workers to make the work environment safer
Any robust lone worker policy will include reporting and monitoring practices that are known to all involved parties. It will make the work environment safer because any time an incident does happen, it will quickly be resolved, so it does not happen again. Also, by monitoring employees, potential problems can be identified before they turn into bigger issues.
A senior member of staff should regularly monitor workers. They should also be allowed to give their input about how their work environment could be made safer.
On-going feedback from the lone worker about their health and safety is crucial as they will likely be the first ones to know should any dangers start to appear.
- You should regularly update your policy document
Lone worker policies are all the more valuable if they are kept updated, current and relevant. This is why you should review your lone worker policy regularly, as well as update it with any new risks or alternative ways to respond to hazards.
Similarly, if a dangerous incident occurs, a review should be done to understand how the existing policy has helped and what improvements are needed for the future.
Additionally, a lone worker policy is only effective if it’s known and followed by everyone in the company. This means organising regular training and re-training to staff, ensuring everyone is up to date with all the processes and systems in place. Of course, new starters need to be trained as well.
Finally, in a situation where staff are coming back into a working environment after a long break, it is useful again to review and update your lone worker policy, and then re-train it to all employees. Always use the lessons learnt from previous events and ensure that everyone contributes and buys into your lone worker policy and solutions.
Vatix have produced additional resources to guide you through the process step by step.
You can download it here and of course Vatix will be at LWSL on 12th October along with our other trusted exhibitors if you want to quiz them on their views some more. Tickets are available on our registration page now.