Is Lone Worker Safety Your Priority?
Keeping your lone workers safe isn’t an option, it’s part of your legal obligation as an employer towards your staff. There are many things you can do to ensure that you're protecting your lone worker employees. Firstly, it's worth identifying who your lone/remote workers are:
Contrary to what many people may think, lone workers are not restricted to a specific industry or job type. According to The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the definition of a lone worker is “those who work by themselves without close or direct supervision.” Essentially, if an employee is working alone, at any time, they are a lone worker. With more people working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic many employers have more remote worker employees than ever.
Due to shift we have seen in working conditions in recent months, many companies have been forced to consider what they can do to ensure the safety and well-being of their lone worker employees.
Generally, lone workers are under higher risk than other employees in the company, even if they are doing a desk-based job. In order to effectively deal with the risks, you need to identify them…completing a risk assessment is a great way of doing this. Consider the risks and the likelihood of them, in relation to; the employee, their work process and activities, equipment used, sources of danger.
It is important to remember that completing a Risk Assessment is not a one-time procedure; you should continually review the worker and their working situation for any new factors that may increase harm.
Providing training to employees isn’t something new to companies, but training employees specifically for lone working may be an element of your training/induction programme that needs more attention. Provide training on topics such as: how to respond to an emergency, best working practices, use of machinery/equipment and potential hazards. This doesn't always have to be done face to face, it is often possible to sufficiently train employees via video conference.
Training benefits both the employee and the employer; an employee will feel better equipped to deal with difficult situations, and the employer will have increased confidence and trust in lone working employees.
Reporting and performance reviews
Your remote workers may be out of sight but they shouldn't be out of mind. Performance and development reviews for lone workers are often pushed to the wayside, however without these the homeworker may feel isolated, without support, and unmotivated. As an employer reporting and review will allow you to monitor the quality and/or quantity of the employee's work. The type of reviews will vary from employee to employee however it's important to set clear objectives and encourage open and frequent communication.
Remote working can cause work-related stress and anxiety (particularly with new remote workers) and affect people's mental health. Performance reviews and frequent check-ins will help you to identify any early signs of stress.
With the continuous advancements in technology, it’s no surprise that there’s a 'techy' way to help with the safety of your home workers. You may have heard of “lone worker system” or “lone working monitoring system”, these are computer programs/apps that allow you to monitor and manage lone workers. Some features include; scheduling, SOS alerts and GPS tracking. This technology particularly benefits mobile lone workers (lorry drivers, delivery drivers, couriers, surveyors, contract cleaners) who conduct their duties at various locations throughout the day. Not only can you keep track of their whereabouts for business purposes, but should an employee need help you can easily locate them.
These systems not only benefit the company, but they show your lone workers that you are willing to implement the necessary measures to ensure that they are well-taken care of, despite working remotely.
It is important to remember that this technology is not a solution but, instead should be used as part of an overall strategy. There are many different systems, devices and apps on the market, so make a list of your required features and find the best fit. To find out if Lightbug has the lone worker device for you and your employees, why not get in touch?
For employers with a mix of site and lone workers: we've been working on new technology to help with the challenges brought about by COVID-19. Our aim has been to help businesses provide a safe return to work, notably by using technology to ensure social distancing guidelines are being adhered to. We'll be releasing another blog post soon detailing how this will work, so stay tuned!