This week our blog is all about how to effectively implement a lone worker policy. We know this is an area of interest to many of you, so we hope this blog from Alicia Mathers from First2HelpYou gives you some welcome guidance.
Implementing a lone worker Policy
Every employer has a duty of care towards their staff, whether they are lone workers or not, but people who work alone are particularly vulnerable to attack, injury, illness, or environmental dangers. Embedding safe practices into everyday working life through a lone worker policy is the best way to ensure you are meeting your duty of care and the safety needs of your staff.
Properly launch and train on the policy
We have all received emails like this before:
We have a new policy (attached). Please read and action immediately.
And we are all guilty of ignoring them or glancing through the policy and immediately forgetting what it contains, because our jobs come first, and we are busy.
Your Lone Worker policy is so important, you need to avoid making this mistake.
Taking your staff into a room, giving them a coffee and a biscuit, and talking them through the policy, why you have brought it in, and how it is going to impact their professional life will be so much more effective.
They will know you are serious about it and will fully understand the policy. Plus, they are much more likely to remember it!
Send regular reminders
Refresher training and regular reminders about the importance of the lone worker policy will mean more staff take it up. Don’t just do the initial training and leave it until it is time to review it.
Reminders could be included in your staff newsletter, if you have one, on a shared notice board, or an online portal. If you have daily, weekly, or monthly staff briefings, spend a moment reinforcing how important your lone worker policy is, why they should use it and potential consequences of not doing, whether they be sanctions or increased danger.
How else can you ensure take up of the lone worker policy?
A lot of the hard work for getting staff buy in can and should be done before the policy is even written.
Get staff involved in writing your lone worker policy
Your lone worker policy has a much better chance of succeeding if your staff feel like they have been a part of the creation of the policy.
Everyone hates being told they have to do something, but no one minds so much if it their own idea. So, by asking your staff for their input, you are more likely to create a policy that they self-police. Plus, who else is going to give you a clearer insight into the dangers they face every day, and how they currently manage the risks than the same staff the policy is going to protect?
Creating a task force to help you scope and manage the policy is a fantastic way of getting some staff to buy in. However, it is important to not create a hotchpotch of a policy that makes no sense!
Collecting the data in a way you can manage is going to be half the battle. If you have a small number of staff, you could send out a questionnaire, or ask everyone to put some ideas on post it notes. This will help you quantify and categorise the date effectively. If you have a large number of staff, you could ask each department to craft their own lone worker policy using clear parameters you set out. All you need to do then is approve it.
Make the lone worker policy easy to embed
Your lone workers are going to find it difficult to follow a lone worker policy that does not easily fit into their normal routine and means that take-up might be worse. By choosing policies and actions that they can easily embed into their everyday work life means your staff will be safer. This is one of the reasons why it is a good idea to have your staff body involved in the scoping of the policy.
If, for example, you know your staff have hour long appointment slots, but your policy states they have to activate the lone worker device / application every half hour, they are going to find the lone worker procedures difficult to follow and disruptive. This will also make your life hard too, as you will be following up on breaches of the policy, or chasing staff you might be worried about, who, in reality are perfectly fine.
Don’t make it too different
Don’t make the actions specified in the lone worker policy radically different to how your staff already behave and the other policies you have.
If your staff never use mobile phones or tablets in their work, then making them check in on an app might be too much for them to fit into their lives and they might not bother. Having a dedicated lone worker device that is as simple as pressing a button might be the best option. Or a simple ‘check in/check out’ book might be a good option.
Whatever you decide to do, don’t introduce something radically different and it is more likely to be taken up.
If you want some more advice you can have a chat with Alicia and her team on the 2nd October at the Lone Worker Safety Expo Conference and Exhibition. First2HelpYou will be happy to share their experience and expertise. Book now to take advantage of our EarlyBird rate until the 27th April by using the code EB10 to receive an extra 10% off your appropriate delegate rate.