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Protecting Lone Workers


As an employer, it is vital to manage any health and safety risks before your employees can work alone. There will always be greater risks for lone workers without direct supervision, or anyone to help them if things go wrong.

Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations, you must manage the risk to lone workers. This includes training, supervising, and monitoring lone workers, as well as keeping in touch with these workers and responding to any incidents should they arise. Important risks to consider include violence in the workplace, mental health and wellbeing, and the employees' workplace itself. You have the same responsibilities for homeworkers and the same liability for accident or injury as for any other workers. This means you must consider the same risks for homeworkers and provide training and supervision also.

Training, Supervision, and Monitoring

It is harder for lone workers to get help, and so they may need extra training. This is particularly important in situations where there is limited supervision to control and help in uncertain situations, and in enabling people to cope with unexpected situations. Clear limits should e set on what can be done while working alone. Make sure lone workers are confident to deal with the requirements of the job, but at the same time are able to recognise when they should seek advice.

Base your levels of supervision on your risk assessment. The higher the risk, the more supervision needed. This will also depend on their ability to identify and handle health and safety issues. The amount of supervision depends on the risks involved and their ability to identify and deal with health and safety issues. More supervision should be provided for new workers at first, especially if they are being trained, doing a job with specific risks, and dealing with new situations. 

You must monitor your lone workers and keep in touch with them. Make sure they understand any monitoring system and procedures you use. These may include knowing when supervisors should visit and observe lone workers, knowing where lone workers are with pre-agreed intervals of regular contact, devices for raising the alarm, and a reliable system to ensure a lone worker has returned to their base once they have completed their task. 

Managing Risks

When looking at ways of managing and reducing risks, you should look at ways of eliminating hazards. For example, if the risk is caused or increased by a lone worker visiting a patient in their own home, it may be safer if the patient comes to the worker and is treated in a safe and secure environment.

Risk assessments should be carried out regularly to ensure safety of lone workers and in order to eliminate these hazards.

Further Reading

Much of the information here has been summarised from the Health and Safety Executive's website. For more information, please visit their guide: HSE lone workers guidance.

They have also released a free guidebook for employers to manage the risks of lone working: HSE guidebook.