The 4 Ps of Lone Worker Risk Management

The 4 Ps of Lone Worker Risk Management

30th June 2020

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), a lone worker is someone who works by themselves without close or direct supervision. Employers should ensure that these workers should be at no greater risk of injury than when with other workers or those working in fixed spaces. However, these workers face a range of hazards and risks daily. When completing a lone worker risk assessment, the employer should consider a wide range of hazards that the workers may face as they attend to their normal duties. One efficient method that you can use is the 4 Ps: pre-job, process, public, and programs. Each factor contains different challenges and opportunities lone workers are likely to encounter.

  1. Pre-job

This refers to the job plan or work order task containing the basic elements of job planning, potential hazards, procedures, special precautions, and PPE requirements. Delaying the start of a project due to inclement weather, missing parts, or emergent work may radically alter the job plan. You need to review and update the pre-job during the task to also include events that surround the task at hand and allow the employees to accomplish it. Also, ensure the pre-job is continually modified and is responsive to changes in the other 3 Ps.

  1. Process

Perhaps this should sound more familiar to you. The main objective here is to proactively identify, evaluate, mitigate, or prevent a potential hazard that could occur from the failure in a particular process. As a lone worker, you need to ask yourself whether:

  • You understand the process design or not.

  • New technology is involved.

  • Your training is current.

  • You understand the emergency programs.

  • The changes have been approved.

  1. Public

The public’s safety is vital, especially for lone workers who handle or transport hazardous materials. Most lone workers hardly take time to assess how they can influence the public’s risk or how the public can influence a job’s risk. As an employer, you need to develop and maintain an effective public program to prevent any loss of primary containment that can harm the environment.

  1. Programs

Programs are usually developed and implemented to provide tools to help protect employees and the public while supporting workers to comply with the relevant laws and regulations. However, it’s easy for lone workers to experience information overload, especially if the employer has several programs in place. The employees may constantly question whether they’re following the program requirements or wonder if the program applies to the job. Lone workers should consider their capabilities regarding last-minute changes in the project and whether they can make large-scale changes while working alone.

The Bottom Line

Lone workers should review and consider the 4 Ps at least four times before and during the job and make appropriate decisions. They should ensure that a family member or colleague knows where they are. Employers also need to assess whether a worker is at significantly higher risk when working alone and take appropriate measures. For instance, they can only allow competent and well-trained personnel to handle the task alone. Such workers should also be provided with the necessary access equipment such as safety ladders and the right PPE.