Using Technology to Protect Lone Workers

Lone working is increasing. With the changes to working patterns, high demands and low resources, and the reduction of office space due to smart working, more and more of us are working alone. The Office of National Statistics estimates that there are nearly four million lone workers in the UK.

Although there are no absolute restrictions and no legal prohibition on working alone, the broad duties of the Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 still apply; in particular identifying hazards, assessing the potential risks involved and putting measures in place to avoid or control the risks.

Lone workers are exposed to two main risks: social risk — the threat of violence and aggression — and environmental risk, while working in normal, abnormal, hazardous, unhygienic and isolated conditions.

Training such as personal safety, conflict management and lone working form part of the control measures that can be adopted, in addition to the provision of information within policy and guidance documents, safe systems of work, effective communication and protective lone working devices.

So, who classifies as a lone worker? Social workers, security guards, district nurses, transport workers, cleaners, laboratory staff, construction site workers and sales reps, to name but a few. Ever stayed later
than everyone else in the office to complete an assignment before a deadline? Well on that occasion, you would classify as a lone worker. In essence, we all at some time in our working lives classify as a lone worker.

Monitoring Lone workers

Procedures will be needed to ensure they remain safe. These may include:

  • Periodic visits & supervision of lone workers
  • Regular contact between the lone worker & supervisor
  • Automatic warning devices which operate if specific signals are not received periodically from the lone worker
  • Other devices are designed to raise the alarm in the event of an emergency & which operate manually or automatically
  • Checks that a lone worker has returned to their base or home on completion of their task

Protective Devices

There are a number of innovative products available to assist lone workers. With so many options, the process of choosing a lone worker device that is fit for purpose can be a task in itself.

Firstly, lone workers and the potential risks they are likely to be exposed to need to be identified: who are
they and what do they do? A risk assessment will identify risks based on:

People – with whom may the lone worker come into contact?

Environment – where the employee will be working

Task – the job task they have to perform.

Visit Cambridge Safety today, we offer Health, Safety and Environment Training Courses and Workplace Training in Peterborough and various locations throughout East Anglia. We also offer a range of Health and Safety E-Learning and NEBOSH Online Courses for individuals who prefer to study online! Contact us today.

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