The HSE has revised its brief guide for employers on the actions they should take to protect their lone workers from harm. What’s covered and what changes have been made since the previous revision?
A lone worker is someone who works by themselves without close or direct supervision.
Lone workers can be found in all industries. They might: (1) consistently work alone from a fixed location, such as a petrol station, shop etc.; (2) work from home; (3) work away; (4) a category easily forgotten, work at the same premises but in a different area or outside of normal hours. Lone workers face similar hazards to others, but the consequences of an accident can be more serious as they do not have anyone on hand to help in an emergency. Recognising that these workers are more vulnerable, the HSE has published a 16 page leaflet Protecting lone workers. How to manage the risks of working alone (Revision 4).
It begins by explaining the intended audience for the guide which includes those who employ lone workers as well as those who engage with contractors or the self-employed when they are on site. Since the last revision the document has been increased from 5 pages to 16. As before, it begins by defining lone working situations and then looks at how changed ways of working are creating more and more lone workers, e.g the gig economy, homeworking etc. This is followed by an outline of the legal requirements and details of the additional training and supervision practices you may need to put in place.
The latest addition now includes a brand-new section which explains how you can protect lone workers from the risk of work-related violence. Risk factors are outlined, such as working late in the evening or early morning when there are fewer workers around, the use of alcohol or drugs, and carrying valuables including cash. It describes measures to consider, including the re-design of premises and additional training. It also covers methods of keeping in touch with those working alone and managing for good mental health.