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April 8, 2015

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Ten tips to keep lone workers safe

Ian Johannessen, managing director of South Yorkshire based Peoplesafe, gives tips for employers on how to keep their lone workers safe.

  1. It’s estimated that there are 6.8 million lone workers, from lorry drivers to social workers. But remember: out of sight does not mean out of mind. By law you have a duty of care to your staff wherever they are. The first step is to carry out a risk assessment.
  2. The risk assessment should look at the people, the environment and the task. Also the severity of risk versus likelihood. For example is the worker vulnerable to attack or accident
  3. Consider how the risk can be managed. Can the work safely be handled by one person? Or does it actually need more than one, perhaps because it involves lifting heavy weights or working in a situation that potentially exposes the worker to violence.
  4. You also need to consider what system is going to be used to monitor them. This could be as simple as a “buddy” system, where another member of staff keeps a check on a lone worker’s whereabouts.
  5. But such simple systems are prone to problems. A diary system can fail simply because people are too busy. And what happens if the lone worker fails to turn up at an appointment? How do you locate them? This is where hi-tech solutions may be the answer, with the lone worker carrying equipment linked to a remote centre where monitoring staff can listen in and record events and, if necessary, co-ordinate emergency support.
  6. When considering a lone worker system it’s best to go for one that meets the demands of BS8484. This gives the highest level of safety and security for staff and assures managers of a direct police response should it be required.
  7. Provide training for lone workers to help them understand and mitigate risks that can occur. Training should focus on the avoidance of conflict and provide best practice for non-violent resolution.
  8. Draw up a lone working policy that offers guidance to empower an employee to make decisions to protect themselves.
  9. If the worst does happen and a lone worker does have an accident or is attacked you should provide support and advice such as counselling and legal advice.
  10. It makes sense financially, legally and morally to look after your lone workers, as not doing so can mean lower morale amongst staff, decreased productivity and greater sickness absence, as well as risk to the company’s reputation.

Ian Johannessen - PeoplesafesmallerIan Johannessen is managing director of South Yorkshire-based Peoplesafe

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