Lone Working Risk Assessment Example

  • Risk Assessment
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Peninsula Group, HR and Health & Safety Experts

(Last updated )

When your employees work alone, you need to assess the unique risks they face and act to remove or minimise them. To help, here's a lone working risk assessment example.

New technology has made it possible for more businesses to operate remotely. This has led to an increase in the number of lone workers.

As an employer, you must provide your lone workers with proper training, monitoring, supervision, and adequate support. If you don't manage the Health & Safety risks associated with lone workers, you could face substantial penalties.

In this guide, we'll identify lone workers, how to reduce the risks of their job, and how to conduct a lone working risk assessment.

What is a lone working risk assessment?

A lone working risk assessment is a method of identifying and assessing risks involved with jobs carried out by lone workers.

The assessment's goal is to figure out what needs to be done to manage Health & afety risks for your lone workers.

Are lone working risk assessments a legal requirement?

Yes, lone working risk assessments are a legal requirement and should be carried out for all your lone workers.

As an employer, you must record and keep a copy of your risk assessment if you employ five or more people.

Who are lone workers?

Lone workers are people who work alone without close or direct supervision. A lone worker can be an employee, a contractor, or self-employed staff.

These are some examples of lone workers:

  • Employees working independently in factories, warehouses, and training establishments.
  • Staff who work outside usual business hours. These can be cleaners, security staff, maintenance or repair staff, etc.
  • Employees working outside their employment premises. These could be people who fix lifts, work inside homes or other businesses, recover vehicles, etc. 
  • Service workers such as postal staff, social workers, estate agents, and sales representatives.

What are the hazards of lone working?

Hazards that lone workers could face include:

  • Work-related accidents or emergencies, including poor provision of first aid.
  • Unexpected illnesses.
  • Lack of rest, hygiene, and welfare facilities.
  • Physical violence by the general public.

Employers who fail to comply with health & safety laws may face unlimited penalties. When deciding an appropriate penalty, the courts will evaluate the extent of harm caused, along with the company's financial records for the past three years.

How to reduce the risks of lone working

Employers must be aware of relevant laws and requirements when creating safe working conditions for lone workers.

As an employer, you must examine if the work activity can be safely done by the person working alone. In order to protect them from the risks of lone working, you should consider the following:

Can the risks of the job be properly managed by one person?

There shouldn't be a higher risk for lone workers than for other employees. Precautions should account for both routine work and potential emergencies, such as fires, equipment malfunctions, illnesses, and accidents.

As an employer, you should be mindful of occasions where your employees work alone. Before allowing this ask the following questions:

  • Is it practical to assign at least 2 workers to the task, to avoid lone working altogether? 
  • Is there a particular risk that a lone worker faces at work?
  • Are they competent enough to take care of their own safety?
  • Can one person safely handle any necessary access equipment, such as portable ladders, etc.? 
  • Can one person handle all the substances and goods required for the job safely?
  • Is there a chance of violence?

Is the person medically fit to work alone?

Check that lone workers don't have any medical issues that would prevent them from working alone. If necessary, seek medical advice from a qualified professional.

Consider ordinary work and any emergencies that could impose additional physical and mental strain on the lone worker.

What kind of training is needed to ensure competency in safety issues?

In lone working situations there is little supervision to help in uncertain situations. This is when training becomes very important. Your lone workers must receive adequate training and have a clear grasp of the occupational risks and your company's emergency procedures.

As an employer, you should set boundaries for what people can and cannot do when working alone. You must make sure your employees are capable of handling situations that are unexpected.

This can help show them how to deal with anxiety at work and when to stop working and ask for advice.

How will the person be watched over?

Although lone workers cannot be constantly watched over, it's your duty as an employer to ensure their health and safety at work. Proper supervision helps your employees understand the dangers of their work and ensures safety precautions are carried out for them.

You can ensure correct health & safety procedures are being carried out when you're evaluating the work's quality and progress. This could take the form of routine site inspections and discussions with staff where they can bring up health & safety concerns.

The extent of supervision depends on the lone worker's ability to identify and handle health & safety issues. It's a management decision, one that should be supported by the results of a risk assessment.

New employees undergoing training or performing risky tasks should be accompanied when they are starting out on the job. It shouldn't be up to individuals to decide whether they need supervision.

How to conduct a lone working risk assessment

When performing a risk assessment for your lone working staff members, you must consider a few factors. These include risks related to their work, the people they interact with, and the locations in which they travel to and work.

Performing a risk assessment for lone workers involves the following five key steps:

Identifying the hazards

Anything that can cause harm to health is a hazard. This includes the dangers involved in manual handling, working with chemicals, and electrical equipment.

Some lone workers might not do all of their tasks in the same setting. In these cases, you need to consider any Health & Safety risks they could encounter when visiting new locations.

Identifying those at risk

It’s important to keep in mind that your workers are unlikely to be the only ones entering a workspace. Keep in mind that clients or other third parties may enter the working zone as well.

What may seem like a clear hazard to you and your employees could be an accident waiting for short term visitors such as clients. It falls within your responsibilities as the employer to ensure safety of both your lone workers and visitors.

Evaluating the potential risk and taking preventative measures

After you've identified possible risks, think about how work is already being carried out. If a risk cannot be avoided, seek ways to minimise it.

Raising awareness of identified dangers and preventing exposure to them is an important part of preventing workplace injuries. All staff must know where the first aid kits are and must be able to use the medical equipment properly.

Keeping records of significant findings

Record your findings in a clear and understandable manner when identifying potential hazards in the workplace. It's not necessary to record your risk assessment or Health & Safety policy if you have fewer than five employees.

List the most immediately threatening risks at the top of the document, and explain what's been done to remove or mitigate them.

Regular reviews and updates

As working environments change, new hazards arise, so safety procedures need to be updated regularly.

Assess potential hazards in your workplace on a regular basis and examine current precautions, highlighting any substantial changes and areas to improve.

Get advice on lone working risk assessment from Peninsula

While lone workers are in charge of their own safety, it's the employer's responsibility to protect them and provide them with a safe workplace.

At the very least, non-compliance with your Health & Safety responsibilities can damage your reputation. It can also result in hefty fines and could lead to serious injuries.

Our teams provide 24/7 Health & Safety advice which is available 365 days a year. We take care of everything when you work with our Health & Safety experts.

Want to find out more? Contact us on 0800 028 2420 and book a free consultation with a Health & Safety consultant today.


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