Do you have lone workers in your business? Do you know how important it is to have a pro-active lone worker compliance strategy? Most importantly of all, do you know who or what a ‘lone worker’ is and do you have policies in place that protect both them and you?
So the key descriptor: a lone worker can be any employee or person working on behalf of your organisation (whatever the sector) that is required to work on their own for any length of time. That length of time could be for a proportion of a day or a proportion of a week whilst on organisation business. The same worker may be working within a team for the rest of the week but that does not make a difference. That could be anyone you may say, and you may well be right!
Most employers fail to recognise the presence of the lone workers in their organisation and this is typically because the lone worker often spends many of their working hours in an office or workplace alongside colleagues and perhaps only occasionally works alone. They may be on site or travelling frequently or working from home.
It is critical for every organisation to recognise the existence of the lone worker status and those who may fit the descriptor. In fact many office workers at some time could be described as a lone worker. However for staff working on site, outdoors or in plants working alone may be a regular occurrence. Organisations must implement safeguards to mitigate any risks to both employees and to the business itself.
Failing to address the lone worker status may lead to serious consequences, not only to the individuals themselves but also to their colleagues, line managers, senior managers and also to the organisation itself. Indeed, it is possible that the organisation and those in seniority when a situation occurs could be fined for breaches and failing to provide a duty of care to the people they represent.
There are many examples available of who and what constitutes a lone worker but the description can apply to an infinite variety of scenarios. Remote working, home workers, solitary location workers, teachers, site visitors and inspectors to remote locations, those who make home visits such as healthcare employees and public servants such as police officers, traffic officers, MPS and government officials are all super examples of the lone worker.
Until one sits down and considers who could be a lone worker, then the subject is clearly not considered at all. Management teams think of most employees as site based or office based and so do not think of them as lone workers because they are mostly not alone. However this is a mistake.
You could excuse yourself and your organisation for doing nothing due to the fact because at first glance there appears to be nothing specific in UK law that protects the lone worker. In fact there is much that relates to the lone worker which is why you need to consider carefully how you are covering the situation.
For example, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) regulates the protection of lone workers. Health and Safety legislation is in place to ensure that lone workers are protected as well as colleagues. Whilst UK law does not state that an organisation must provide a lone worker with any associated safety device, every employer has a duty of care and that indeed may relate directly to the provisioning of a safety device. There may be issues regarding safety of access, health and safety, access to medical and safety equipment etc. What is your policy and how has this been disseminated to your workers? When was the last time you addressed it as a lone worker policy? How do you know the workers are complying? What can you pro-actively demonstrate regarding lone worker compliance?
Issues you may wish to address include lone working hazards and avoidance, lone working safety devices, lone working safety risks and how you are assessing them and proactively monitoring them. Furthermore what process has your organisation defined with regards to addressing issues as they arise. How often is your lone working policy being updated and how frequently are your employees being updated. Can you prove it in an auditing scenario?
With lone working scenarios, one size does not fit all and managers should be tailoring lone worker policies to specifically fit their sector and business scenarios. All managers should have a proactive compliance solution in situ. Ask yourself what training records for each lone worker-related process and procedure you have in place and how you are able to demonstrate the training compliance to an auditor on demand. Can you demonstrate how the machinery and equipment being used by a lone worker is being maintained safely and what safety procedures a lone worker must follow? If you can’t answer these questions, it is time to do something about it now.
Scaremongering? If something happens to your lone worker and you have no policies and monitoring in place then the law could be seeking redress for you as you failed in your duty of care. A people compliance solution like Orchestra Read and Comply™ allows you to quickly distribute a range of lone worker policies, standards, procedures and link them to suitable training resources. Orchestra provides you with the effective means to both monitor and report on your actual levels of lone worker compliance.
Lone worker policies and procedures can be issued rapidly to the many different people, in the many specialist and disparate teams across your organisation who work alone from time to time. This means that you may have a range of lone worker documents relating to a variety of working scenarios rather than one single policy.
Pro-actively covering the well-being of your employees, yourself and your organisation is very sensible move and you will not be alone in taking this proactive step towards better compliance.
For more information on how Orchestra by Signarus can provide you with a rapid lone worker solution please call us on (UK) 020 7 788 9445 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.