In this blog Owen Miles Technical Director for Everbridge EMEA, one of our Key Sponsors gives us his views on the thorny issue of Duty of Care. Who is responsible for what and when?

One of the key discussion points at the 2018 Lone Worker Safety Expo will be around understanding the legal obligations for managing the health and safety of lone and vulnerable workers. Such awareness is crucial for employers given the fact that the jobs typically carried out by lone workers often carry an increased level of threat. For example, oil & gas workers, petrol station attendants operating 24-hour businesses, taxi drivers, home care nurses and telecoms engineers working in hazardous environments.

But what is the duty-of-care for ensuring the health and safety of lone workers and who is responsible? What are they responsible for and when? Legally, employers are responsible for the health, safety and welfare of all their employees while at work, regardless of location or environment. This extends to include safety contractors or self-employed people doing work for them.

Duty of Care also applies in the case of those working away on business travel and international staff operating in a foreign setting. In some instances, duty of care can also potentially extend to non-working hours, including travel, during social activities and over holiday periods.

Such regulations are codified in Statutory Law through the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HASAWA), which created a self-regulatory model that presupposes there is work for businesses to do, with subsequent regulations directing how the goals of the Act should be achieved. Section 2 of the Act states that it is “the duty of the employer to ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees, so far as is reasonably practicable”, which applies from the time they leave home (unless travelling to their normal place of work).

The management of health and safety at work requires a suitable and sufficient assessment of risk and an ongoing record of any significant findings. These risk assessments must drive management decisions and behaviours across the whole organisation and provide assurances for lone worker employees and ideally anticipate future adverse events.

One key way to help ensure the health and safety of lone workers is by enabling effective communications, which is an area Everbridge has specialised in for over 15 years. Such location-aware technology solutions enable employers to quickly find and communicate with lone workers at any time, regardless of their location.

For example, Everbridge’s Safety Connection tracks ‘static’ locations, ‘last-known’ locations and ‘expected’ locations to help determine where an employee is and what risks they may face there. Another useful tool Everbridge offers is the provision of an ‘always on’, emergency alert button. This offers a very effective way for lone workers encountering unexpected incidents to ask for help quickly and discreetly.

The Lone Worker Safety Expo will demonstrate just how much how lone worker wellbeing has moved up the priority list for businesses and the wider corporate agenda. However, with the number of lone and mobile workers only forecast to grow over the next few years, effective communications solutions will become more and more vital to a business’ continuity plan. We at Everbridge look forward to discussing this with you on 2nd October.