A lone worker policy is a formal document that identifies the risks faced by lone workers and outlines the responsibilities of employers and employees in ensuring their safety. Working alone can be dangerous. They work alone or isolated, without close, regular, or direct supervision, and therefore, face higher health and safety risks than those who do not.
This article will outline how to develop an effective Lone Worker Policy to mitigate these risks and improve your lone worker’s safety.
A lone worker policy is a crafted set of guidelines and procedures. Its primary aim? To safeguard the safety and well-being of employees who find themselves working alone, often in environments without immediate assistance or supervision.
The significance of these policies cannot be overstated. They provide a practical guide for managers and employees on how to stay safe when working alone. These policies empower lone workers to take responsibility for their own safety and ensure that everyone is prepared to respond in an emergency.
In many regions, having such a policy isn't just a matter of best practice—it's a legal necessity.
The Work Health and Safety Act is a pivotal piece of legislation in Australia, designed to ensure the safety and well-being of all workers. For lone workers, this Act holds particular significance, laying down stringent guidelines to minimize risks and ensure a safe working environment.
Here are some guidelines stipulated that businesses must follow under the act:
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the United States has set forth specific guidelines tailored for the safety of lone workers. These guidelines, coupled with state-specific regulations, form a comprehensive framework to protect individuals working without close or direct supervision.
Here's a summary of the guidelines (Standard Number: 1915.84 - Working Alone).
If an employee is working by themselves, especially in tight or secluded areas, the employer should:
The employer can do this by either seeing the employee or speaking with them.
What are Transient Workers? A transient worker is someone who moves from place to place to work, often for short periods of time. They may be employed by a single company or by multiple companies. Transient workers can include salespeople, consultancy and field service technicians, among others.
Who are Fixed-Site Workers? Unlike their transient counterparts, fixed-site workers remain stationed at a specific location for their job roles. This category encompasses individuals like security personnel, night shift workers in factories, or museum attendants, who operate alone within a defined space.
What Defines a Remote Worker? Remote workers operate in areas that are often isolated from urban centers or typical workplaces. Their work settings often lack immediate assistance or conventional communication means. A remote worker might iinclude agricultural workers, forestry professionals, and geological surveyors, to name a few.
What Does a Geological Surveyor's Day Look Like? Imagine embarking on a journey to remote terrains, armed with tools and maps, but often devoid of immediate assistance. This is a day in the life of a geological surveyor. Their tasks involve exploring and analyzing geological formations, often in isolated regions. The challenges? Harsh weather conditions, unpredictable terrains, and potential wildlife encounters. This underscores the critical importance of a robust lone worker policy, ensuring their safety and well-being during such expeditions.
Is Working in Urban Buildings Always Safe? Picture a vast commercial building, long after office hours. This is the workspace of an after-hours maintenance technician. The absence of colleagues or security can pose unique risks. From potential electrical hazards to unexpected intruders, the challenges are manifold. It brings to light the essential need for clear communication protocols, regular check-ins, and stringent safety measures, even in seemingly secure environments.
Every lone worker policy should be tailored to the specific needs of your organization, legal requirements, and lone worker risks. However, there are some essential elements that all lone worker safety policies should include, regardless of industry.
In the next section, we will expand on the key components of a lone working policy and outline the six key steps in creating your own.
Lone workers are employees who work alone, without direct supervision. This can include employees who work in remote locations, at night, or in hazardous environments.
To create a comprehensive lone worker safety policy, it is important to first identify all of the lone worker roles in your organization. This will help you to tailor the policy to the specific needs of your lone workers.
It can be challenging to identify lone workers who do not work in isolation or remote locations, such as office employees who leave for meetings, service calls, job sites, or work after hours. However, it is just as important to ensure these roles and tasks are included in the safety management procedures.
Once you have identified all of the lone worker roles, you need to identify and assess the risks that they face. This includes considering all potential hazards, such as accidents, injuries, violence, and exposure to hazardous substances.
You can conduct a risk assessment for each lone worker role to identify specific hazards and assess the likelihood and severity of each hazard. This will help you to prioritize the risks and develop appropriate safety measures.
Once you have identified and assessed the risks, you need to define lone-working safety processes and procedures. This includes developing clear procedures for monitoring lone workers, requesting assistance in an emergency, and responding to emergencies.
You may want to consider using technology such as GPS tracking and panic buttons to help monitor lone workers. You should also make sure that lone workers know how to use these systems and that they are comfortable with them.
For example, lone workers should be able to check in with a supervisor at regular intervals and should have a way to contact for help if needed. Supervisors should be responsible for monitoring lone workers and responding to emergencies.
It is important to define the roles and responsibilities of all parties involved in lone worker safety. This includes lone workers, managers, supervisors, and other relevant personnel.
For example, lone workers should be responsible for following the safety policy and reporting any concerns. Managers and supervisors should be responsible for monitoring lone workers, providing training, and responding to emergencies.
It is important to make sure that all employees, including lone workers, understand the lone worker safety policy and how to follow it. You should also provide training on how to identify and assess risks, how to stay safe when working alone, and how to respond to emergencies.
This training should be tailored to the specific needs of lone workers and should be regularly updated.
The lone worker safety policy should be reviewed and updated regularly to reflect changes in the workplace, government regulations, and industry best practices. You should also involve employees in the review process to ensure that the policy is still relevant and effective.
By following these steps, you can create a comprehensive and effective lone worker safety policy that will help to protect your employees.
Tip: if you’re unfamiliar with Lone Worker Policies, we encourage you to take our free Comprehensive Guide to Lone Worker Safety.
Now you may be wondering, how can we ensure our duty of care, develop an effective lone worker policy and execute it? It can seem like a daunting task. But you’re not alone and modern smart technology is making this process significantly easier.
At SafetyIQ, we have a comprehensive Lone Worker Management Software that provides:
If you’re interested in learning more please check it out here.
A plethora of devices have emerged to bolster the safety of lone workers.
The integration of technology into lone worker safety protocols brings a multitude of benefits. For starters, it ensures faster response times in emergencies, as real-time monitoring allows for immediate action. Moreover, these technological tools provide invaluable data, capturing insights about worker movements, safety incidents, and more. This data is not just a record – it's a goldmine for policy refinement, allowing organizations to continually enhance their safety protocols based on tangible evidence.
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