Lone Working Guide

09 July 2019

Your business may require lone working to complete certain essential tasks. If this is the case, as an employer you must still fulfil your duty of care to this staff member.

And this means following UK health & safety laws—as well as creating a policy for your lone workers (LWs).

So, what steps do you need to take to ensure their safety and productivity? Well, you can call us on 0800 028 2420 for immediate support.

Or you can read this guide, which explores the pros and cons of lone working as well as any necessary procedures you must use to ensure lone worker’s safety.

What is a lone worker?

It’s an individual who works alone without your close (or direct) supervision. This includes employees who:

  • Work by themselves. Such as in a shop, kiosk, or petrol station.
  • Work separately from other employees at the same workplace or work outside normal hours, such as cleaners and security staff.
  • Don’t have a fixed base. For example, maintenance, healthcare and agricultural workers.
  • Work at home doing a job that involves more than low-risk work. Such as working with adhesives or soldering.
  • Work on the go. That includes taxi and lorry drivers.

Lone workers shouldn’t be in greater danger than your other employees.

So, it’s your responsibility to assess the hazards they face and act to control or avoid them.

The advantages and disadvantages of lone working

For some businesses, it may prove an essential requirement you need to fulfil.

From a beneficial perspective, you have a trained individual completing a task that you wouldn’t otherwise complete.

However, one of the main disadvantages of this is in the event something goes wrong.

If the individual has an accident, for example, they can face severe consequences unless they receive immediate medical assistance. Which may prove difficult to achieve.

As such, it’s essential to have policies in place to limit the risks associated with this type of role.

What is the law on lone working?

There isn’t a specific lone working legislation regulating this type of role, but there are other lone working regulations within that highlight your responsibilities towards them.

Most of the below deal with the health & safety lone working requirements and you need to address. HSE lone working health & safety] laws you must abide by. These include the:

  • Health & Safety at Work Act.
  • Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations.
  • Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations.
  • The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations.
  • The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations.
  • Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations.
  • The Health & Safety (First Aid) Regulations.

The hazards of lone working

There are specific hazards individuals face you must be aware of. . Lone working risks include the:

  • Possibility of violent attack.
  • Possibility of verbal attacks.
  • Inability to call for help in the event of sudden illness or an accident.
  • Extreme weather conditions and work in exposed places.
  • Manual handling during the delivery of goods (a manual handling risk assessment can help avoid any issues).

Lone working at height also poses potentially severe issues in the event of a fall. You should be particularly careful here and provide:

  • Training so the individual knows to work safely, whether that’s working on a ladder or on a high-roofed building.
  • Consideration for public safety, such as prevention of falling objects.
  • Ensuring there’s a rescue plan in the event an individual becomes stuck at a height.

Taking the relevant precautions and providing training will help to prevent (and manage) any incidents.

Ultimately, as the individual is alone if any type of workplace incident occurs, it’s important to have a contingency plan in place for them to follow if their personal safety is at risk.

In fact, there are some alarming statistics for how many lone workers are attacked everyday—the British Crime Survey indicates it’s up to 150 lone workers150.

An inspection of their working environment can help you to avoid such issues. As well as using preventative measures—such as a security guard or CCTV.

Using a lone worker monitoring system

For remote workers’ safety monitoring, simple systems and procedures are often the best way to improve safety for lone workers.

You need to maintain regular contact between the employee and their supervisor by phone or radio. Satellite tracking devices on vehicles can also assist in identifying the whereabouts of your staff.

In many circumstances, where the work is of low risk, a simple text message to a manager or supervisor at the end of a shift will suffice.

However, supervisors will still need to periodically visit lone workers, observe their work, and check they’re following procedures.  

In the event of an incident or injury involving a lone worker, managers should carry out a thorough investigation and review their risk assessment and safe system of work.

To make lone worker monitoring simple but effective, you can use online health & safety software. With it, you can:

  • Create risk assessments.
  • Record accidents.
  • Create policies and store them securely online.
  • Receive expert training from online courses.

Lone working - employees’ rights

There isn’t an employment law blocking your business from hiring lone workers.

But you do have to follow high health & safety standards—as set out in the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

However, what if an employee asks you, “Can I refuse to work alone?” No, as lone working is legal under UK laws.

However, if your employee has a genuine reason not to work alone (such as with a longstanding medical issue) they should discuss this with you.

You can then decide whether it’s practical and sage for this individual to complete their role.

Also, you should consider conducting a risk assessment if you plan on lone working under 18.

Legally, anyone 16 or over can work alone. But you must ensure your health & safety standards meet current lone working UK laws in the UK.

Young workers under 18 have different employment rights from adult workers, including where and when they can work. So, you must ensure you’re  are compliant.

Need our help?

If you need assistance with your health & safety policies regarding lone worker laws, get in touch for immediate support. We’re here to help: 0800 028 2420

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