Lone working is defined by the Health and Safety Executive as those who work by themselves without close or direct supervision. This doesn’t mean that the worker is physically alone, it means that are in a separate location to the rest of their team or manager. Some workers may be alone such as fixed location workers, however, many work with the general public.
Many injuries that you can suffer at work can have more serious severe consequences if the person cannot be helped swiftly.
Establishing a healthy and safe working environment for lone workers can be different from organising the health and safety of other employees. They should not be put at more risk than other people working for you.
Is lone working legal?
Yes, but as an employer, you still have a legal obligation to carefully consider health and safety risks. There are a number of things you should do to help better protect your lone workers and comply with both moral and legal obligations.
An effective lone worker policy can help to promote a strong safety culture among employees and reduce the risk of legal issues. The key to a strong policy is to consider the potential risks that lone working employees face and offer best-practice guidance.
A separate lone working risk assessment is especially important because lone workers are often more vulnerable than someone who, for example, works in a busy office. The risk assessment process is not about creating huge amounts of paperwork; it is about identifying risks and taking proportionate measure to control them. Some of the risks of lone working are:
- accidents or emergencies arising out of the work, including inadequate provision of first aid
- sudden illnesses
- inadequate provision of rest, hygiene and welfare facilities
- physical violence from members of the public and/or intruders
Lone worker training is also available. We provide an eLearning course for lone working essentials.
It will often be safe to work alone. However, the law requires employers to think about and deal with any health and safety risks before people are allowed to do so.
Things you could consider so that lone workers are not put at risk include:
- assessing areas of risk including violence, manual handling, the medical suitability of the individual to work alone and whether the workplace itself presents a risk to them
- requirements for training, levels of experience and how best to monitor and supervise them
- making sure you know what is happening, including having systems in place to keep in touch with them and monitor their safety where appropriate