A lone working policy is a practical guide that employees can apply to their roles if they work alone. A lone worker policy will promote a safe culture among employees and reduce the risk of injury, accident and incident. A good policy will consider all the potential risks that face lone workers, in various different environments associated with the work they conduct. It should include details about risks associated withe different job roles and lone working situations, definitions of lone working, a purpose statement, an organisational commitment to reduce and remove risk, clear responsibilities, guidance for employees and any other relevant information.
Every policy should be unique to your organisation as lone working can differ according to the industry and environment. If you work alone, even for just some of your time at work, you are a lone worker. The Health and Safety Executive defines lone workers as ‘those who work by themselves without close or direct supervision’. This could be for example, a security guard working in an office on a night shift, Or social and health workers who visit people in their homes, delivery drivers, tradespeople, homeworkers or shop-workers. Even office workers can find themselves occasionally alone in the office. All organisations need to be aware of this and have a policy in place to keep their employees safe.
The law and regulations
There are 5 key pieces of legislation which apply to lone working:
- Health and Safety at Work Act
- Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations
- The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations
- The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations
- The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations
This legislation clearly places responsibility on employers for health, safety and welfare of employees – including lone workers. Employers must make sure employees have a safe working environment, identify any special health and safety risks, and reduce or remove them as far as reasonably practicable.
Is Lone Working Legal?
Yes lone working is legal, and in some roles, entirely necessary. In others it is convenient and sometimes it happens unexpectedly. As an employer, you have a legal obligation to be aware of all the ways your employees could lone work and carefully consider health and safety risks. This also extends to contractors and self-employed people who work for your business. A lone working policy should address this.
Whilst employers have the greatest responsibility with regard to safeguarding lone working, employees also have an important role to play. This should be outlined in any lone working policy.
Employers are responsible for:
- carrying out risk assessments
- implementing a lone working policy
- ensuring policies are regularly reviewed and updated
- providing training, including comprehensive induction
- communicating information effectively
- acting on any lone worker incident reports
- providing supervision and support
Employees are responsible for:
- attending training
- reading and understanding relevant policies
- following policies and procedures
- using personal protective equipment if provided
- carrying a personal safety device if provided
- taking care of personal safety and that of others
- reporting any incidents where they feel at risk
- reporting any accidents, near misses or acts of aggression
Protecting lone workers
As an employer you have a duty to take every reasonable precaution to ensure the safety of lone workers in your organisation. There are numerous ways lone workers can be vulnerable. As an employer you must put a policy in place to migrate risks. This includes:
Accidents – falls, trips etc, road accidents, work related accidents
Illness – if someone is alone and they suddenly fall ill, what happens? They could faint or lose consciousness.
Attack – working alone makes you vulnerable and an easy target.
Engage in Learning provide an engaging and robust eLearning Lone Worker training course. This course will explore all the legal responsibilities, the possible risks associated with lone working and steps you must take to minimise risk.