WHAT IS LONE WORKING?
Many businesses are often not sure what constitutes lone working and fail to identify potentially dangerous tasks. It might sound glaringly obvious but, lone working, is any period of time that a team member is working on their own. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) define lone working as “those who work by themselves without close or direct supervision”. Lone working is perfectly legal to carry out but, like all tasks within your business, you must have looked at the risks and taken reasonable steps to mitigate them.
Examples of Lone Working:
- Sales Team members out on the road
- Estate Agents visiting properties
- Staff travelling to and from meetings
- A member of staff who starts earlier or leaves later than everyone else
- A member of your team who responds to intruder alarm activations outside working hours
- A cleaner working in your office after everyone else has left
WHY MANAGE LONE WORKING
For the safety of your team and business, especially in the era of corporate manslaughter, reviewing how your team work, identifying and risk assessing lone working then putting in steps to mitigate risk are vital.
There are several arguments for dealing with lone working:
- Financial – Your team members being injured at work can be costly with downtime, investigations and compensation
- Morale – Looking after the safety of your team so they feel protected and valued
- Legal – The main areas of legislations covering lone working are:
- Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
- Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
- Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007
- The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR)
HOW TO MANAGE LONE WORKING
Taking reasonable steps to manage lone working does not have to be time consuming or expensive and minimises the risk of incidents.
Initially you need to risk assess the lone working and identify the tasks, hazards and people performing the duties. Once you have identified the risks you can take steps to manage lone working safely, these steps include:
- By law you are required to speak to your team members on health and safety matters so, talk to you team and involve them, they can often come up with the best mitigation actions
- Introduce supervision
- The use of technology, stand-alone lone worker devices or, lone worker apps for smart phones
- Stopping any lone working which the risks cannot be reduced by adding supervision or a colleague
One the risk assessment is complete and the control measures identified, implement them and then perform regular reviews.
WHERE CAN I FIND MORE INFORMATION?
- Health and Safety Executive website
- Suzi Lamplugh Trust
Lone working is often perfectly safe as long as you have evaluated the risks and controlled them to keep your team and business safe.