Lone working meaning
Employers have a duty to ensure they provide a safe working environment to reduce so far as reasonably practicable the risk employees are exposed to. This applies to instances when lone working may be required.
‘’Lone working is when an employee works without direct supervision, without a colleague nearby or when working out of earshot of others’’.
Lone working poses a risk to employees who work alone because if something were to happen to them in the form of an accident or incident, then nobody would be able to help or make a call on their behalf, should emergency services be required. Therefore, employers must undertake a lone working risk assessment of all processes and instances when lone working is undertaken, preferably prior to the work taking place. The assessor must consider all job roles and departments to identify when lone working takes place and to assess the hazards, existing control measures which have been implemented and the requirement for further action to be taken, to ensure that risk is lowered to a safe level. The completed lone working risk assessment should be communicated to all those who work alone, so they are aware of the control measures in place and the protocols that they must follow when lone working. The process of communicating the lone working risk assessment should be documented, so there is a record of providing instruction and information of the subject. As required by the lone working risk assessment, training should be provided on the safe operating procedures and if applicable equipment to wear or phone apps to use.
If lone working is going to be a common occurrence within an organisation, then further to the risk assessment, it will be prudent to develop a lone working policy.
Lone working policy
If you use the Pilla Document Platform, than you have access to our health and safety management system which includes the required sections and detail on lone working. This includes identifying the person who will take responsibility for lone working in your business and outlining the arrangements for how you will keep lone workers safe.
If you don’t use the Pilla Document Platform, then you should create your own system for protecting lone workers. When developing a lone working policy, the information needs to clear and concise, starting with the aims of the organisation surrounding working alone and its commitment to the health & safety of its employees. As the policy will be used a practical guide that employees and managers can use and apply to their roles. The policy needs to identify those who have responsibility when arranging lone working and identify that employees have a duty to work safely, without compromising their own health & safety whilst working alone. The policy should also document who employees are to report to, regarding incidents which may have arisen when lone working, so these instances can be investigated, to learn from what occurred, and update the risk assessment, which reduces the risk of an accident.
Here are some commonly used control measures for lone working.
- Ensure those that are lone working are trained in the work they are going to undertake
- Monitor the work area of work to ensure the environment is safe and there are no hazards which could contribute to an accident
- Maintain equipment to be used so the equipment remains in a safe working condition.
- Agree on the method of communication between responsible person and the lone worker, this could be use of mobile phones or in-person checks
- Set regular times to monitor the lone worker’s wellbeing
- If the lone worker is customer facing at a late hour, this must be risk assessed separately to ensure suitable and sufficient control measures have been implemented. This is because there is risk of mental and physical abuse from members of the public. These control measures include installing CCTV, displaying CCTV warning signage, reviewing cash handling requirements, providing training on how to deal with confrontation, and providing emergency contact details for the senior management and the police.