Health and Safety
This is an extract from the Health and Safety Executive of which provides guidance on how to keep lone workers healthy and safe. It is aimed at anyone who employs or engages lone workers, and also at self-employed people who work alone. Following the guidance in the leaflet is not compulsory, but it should help employers understand what they need to do to comply with their legal duties towards lone workers under:
Working alone is not in itself against the law and it will often be safe to do so. However, the law requires employers to consider carefully, and then deal with, any health and safety risks for people working alone.
Employers are responsible for the health, safety and welfare at work of all their workers. They also have responsibility for the health and safety of any contractors or self-employed people doing work for them.
These responsibilities cannot be transferred to any other person, including those people who work alone.
Workers have responsibilities to take reasonable care of themselves and other people affected by their work activities and to co-operate with their employers in meeting their legal obligations.
Lone workers are those who work by themselves without close or direct supervision, for example:
Employers have a duty to assess risks to lone workers and take steps to avoid or control risks where necessary. This must include:
This may include:
Risk assessment should help employers decide on the right level of supervision. There are some high-risk activities where at least one other person may need to be present. Examples include:
Employers who have five or more employees must record the significant findings of
all risk assessments.
Employers also need to be aware of any specific law that prohibits lone working applying in their industry. Examples include supervision in diving operations, vehicles carrying explosives and fumigation work.
By law, employers must consult all their employees on health and safety matters.
Effective consultation will also help ensure that relevant hazards are identified, and appropriate and proportionate control measures are chosen.
Lone workers should not be put at more risk than other employees. Establishing a healthy and safe working environment for lone workers can be different from organising the health and safety of other employees. Some of the issues that need special attention when planning safe working arrangements are set out in the following pages, but your risk assessment process should identify the issues relevant to your circumstances.
Employers should take account of normal work and foreseeable emergencies, eg fire, equipment failure, illness and accidents. Employers should identify situations where people work alone and consider the following:
Employers should seek medical advice if necessary. Consider both routine work and foreseeable emergencies that may impose additional physical and mental burdens on an individual.
Training is particularly important where there is limited supervision to control, guide and help in uncertain situations.
Training may also be crucial in enabling people to cope in unexpected circumstances and with potential exposure to violence and aggression.
Lone workers are unable to ask more experienced colleagues for help, so extra training may be appropriate. They need to be sufficiently experienced and fully understand the risks and precautions involved in their work and the location that they work in.
Employers should set the limits to what can and cannot be done while working alone. They should ensure workers are competent to deal with the requirements of the job and are able to recognise when to seek advice from elsewhere.
The extent of supervision required depends on the risks involved and the ability of the lone worker to identify and handle health and safety issues.
The level of supervision needed is a management decision, which should be based on the findings of a risk assessment, ie the higher the risk, the greater the level of supervision required. It should not be left to individuals to decide whether they need assistance.
Where a worker is new to a job, undergoing training, doing a job that presents specific risks, or dealing with new situations, it may be advisable for them to be accompanied when they first take up the post.
Procedures must be put in place to monitor lone workers as effective means of communication are essential. These may include:
Your assessment of the risks should identify foreseeable events. Emergency procedures should be established and employees trained in them.
Information regarding emergency procedures should be given to lone workers. Your risk assessment may indicate that mobile workers should carry first-aid kits and/or that lone workers need first-aid training. They should also have access to adequate first-aid facilities.
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