The Latest Health & Safety Guidelines for Lone Workers
When considering health and safety matters, it is easy to overlook the needs of solo workers. Thankfully, the UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recently brought out detailed guidelines on how to protect employees in this position.
Definition of Lone Workers
The definition of a lone worker that is given in the update is of people who “work by themselves without close or direct supervision”. The most common areas included in this definition are delivery drivers, security staff, cleaners and petrol stations workers. But it is clear that there are other categories too.
For example, with more people than ever before now working from home, this is another category of lone workers to be aware of. It is also worth bearing in mind that construction workers may also sometimes be left on their own for certain jobs.
Basically, many people could be classed as a lone worker at some point. Even if they spend more time with colleagues than alone, their employer needs to look after them at all times.
How to Look After Them
An important part of looking after lone workers is in training and monitoring them properly. To do this well, it is important to think in advance about the hazards that they will potentially face.
Once they start working alone, the employer should stay in touch with them. If they report any kind of incident, then they should feel comfortable that it will be dealt with swiftly and appropriately. No one should be expected to carry out tasks that need two or more people to do them safely.
What Risks Do They Face?
This type of solo worker has to deal with a variety of different risks, some of which are similar to those faced by others and some of which are unique to their situation.
The HSE lists a few of the possible dangers as violence, stress and mental health, medical suitability and anything relating to the workplace itself. They also point out that there are some cases in which a colleague or supervisor may be needed.
In the case of the construction industry, it may be dangerous for them to use certain types of equipment on their own. Safety items that can be used when alone, such as a sturdy ladder, step unit and proper safety clothing, should all be provided.
Other Points to Bear in Mind
It is important that lone workers have access to first aid equipment and receive adequate first aid training. They should also have emergency contact numbers to allow them to get in touch with their employer if necessary.
The physical and mental demands of working alone can also be tough on people who do this. This is why they should also be given the opportunity to speak with colleagues, virtually or in person, on a regular basis.
There are more people who work on their own than perhaps it may seem. Employers have a duty to look after them well and ensure that they don’t feel unprotected.