06 March 2013
Keeping lone workers safe
As an employer, you must take steps to safeguard all your employees but especially those who work alone and who may face additional risks. This will help you ensure you comply with the law but can also give you assurance that you have taken all reasonable steps to protect them.
You must identify any hazards particular to lone workers, assess those risks and set up procedures to avoid or control them. If you have five or more employees, you must record your findings in writing.
It's a two-way street and your lone workers need to know that they have legal obligations too. They must take reasonable care of themselves, and co-operate with you. You should include them in your risk assessment as they are often the best people to tell you about any hazards and risks they face.
Think about procedures, training, monitoring and any appropriate equipment. Staff working alone in shops, leisure centres, petrol stations or factories, and outside normal hours - like security staff or petrol station attendants - need to know what to do in an emergency. They need secure premises - entry, monitoring or alarm systems and restricted areas. And they need to know back-up and support will be available when they need it, and how to call for it.
Mobile workers, like cleaners, vehicle recovery and maintenance staff working on other premises, need additional protection. Add special training, regular and agreed contact, supervisor inspections, automatic warning devices and first aid equipment to your shopping list. If your lone worker is off-site, tell the other employer when your lone worker is on their premises, so they can take care too.
Special care is needed if:
- the work being undertaken puts new, young, pregnant and new mothers or less mobile workers more at risk
- cash or portable equipment is involved that make your workers a possible target
- they deal with members of the public, or handle complaints or bad news
- they are alone in one-to-one situations in someone else's home
- they are working in an area with restricted access
You should regularly ask your lone workers if they feel safe, and how you can improve. Check their records for tell-tale absenteeism or other stress-related signs that could indicate an underlying problem. Also check information on the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) website.
For advice on writing or updating your employee policies or procedures, or just general employment law advice, contact a lawyer within the experienced employment team at B P Collins on 01753 279029 or email email@example.com.