Did you know that there are over 8 million lone workers in the UK and the number set to increase? Are you clear on what the rules are?
What is Lone Working?
Lone working does not mean a person works in complete isolation all the time. Lone working may be a small part of the work – but as it is an element of work it is part of the risk assessment process. For example, a cleaner may enter a building while it is still very busy, but left alone to finish their shift; a medical secretary may work in a department which is busy during the day, but quiet and isolated at other times.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) helps with the definition of a lone working as:
“those who work by themselves without close or direct supervision”.
Although I prefer Croner’s definition which goes further:
“a worker whose activities involve a large percentage of their working time operating in situations without the benefit of interaction with other workers or without supervision”.
Examples of Lone Work
- Alone in a shop
- Factories and leisure centres
- Working unsocial hours
- Doesn’t work on a fixed site
- Mobile workers (delivery and Postal Services)
- Key holders (open and locking up premises)
- Shift workers e.g., NHS
Employer responsibilities for Lone Workers
Health and safety law makes it clear that you have to treat lone workers as being at risk. Employers need to:
- Define and identify lone workers
- Undertake a risk assessment
- Assess the environment
- Provide supervision and training
- Be aware of where workers are and their working shifts
- Maintain regular communications
Employees too, when working alone, and unsupervised are expected to work safely. They need to:
- Avoid potentially dangerous situation
- Follow set procedures
There is lots of technology you can use to monitor and help your lone workers keep safe.
- Apps for lone workers
- Satellite devices with GPS
- Person-down capability devices (gyroscope)
- Alert-a-buddy alarms
- Wearable technology
My Top Eight Lone Worker Apps
Consider these Apps for providing extra protection and alerts for lone workers and their smartphones (either apple or android):
A compass app is essential for those working alone in remote locations that they are less familiar with. Smart Compass is enabled by a magnetic sensor, used to measure the strength and direction of magnetic fields to help determine orientation.
With the British weather so temperamental, lone workers need to know if the weather might take a turn for the worse, especially when working in forests, farms or even while driving in exposed areas. I like the ‘RealFeel’ temperatures within this app and the fact that you can get an hourly forecast if you need to know the best time to carry out a potentially dangerous task outdoors.
Most lone workers should carry a torch, even if they don’t work nights. Torches can be used to assist mobility in areas of low light, to locate keyholes and locks and attract the attention of others when in danger. The Color Flashlight app is able to easily activate a torch from the back of your phone.
LiftRight is a lifting safety app that helps assess the risks associated with manual handling tasks in the workplace. It calculates the Recommended Weight Limit (RWL) that defines the maximum acceptable weight limit over the course of an 8-hour shift. This app is ideal for those working alone in isolated areas of a warehouse, where they need to ensure they are lifting and handling objects in line with the recommended NIOSH Lifting Equation.
If you’re a security guard, this free video surveillance viewer app allows you to view up to 16 IP security cameras from your iPhone; ideal if you need to monitor specific areas of a building whilst out on patrol.
FallClear assists competent and qualified persons working at height to calculate fall distances and provides advice on how to estimate additionally required clearance to account for deflection of horizontal lifelines, the stretch of vertical lifelines, and swing fall. It evaluates required clearance for several fall arrest scenarios that the user identifies by selecting the applicable pictogram. It presumes that Personal Energy Absorbers (PEAs) always fully deploy when arresting a fall.
As more and more organisations adopt lone worker policies and safety training, there is also the need to provide them with monitoring devices that make responding to any incidents fast and simple. LoneALERT’s protection app provides location information through the smartphone’s built-in GPS/LBS location tracking technology and a designated panic button that raises an immediate alert during an emergency.
This is my favourite for First Aid (free). Simple, easy to follow advice on 18 everyday first aid scenarios. Also tips on how to prepare for emergencies, from severe winter weather to road traffic accidents. With videos, interactive quizzes and simple step-by-step advice, it’s never been easier to learn first aid. Also, information is in the app itself, so no internet connection needed, making it fast and easy to access.
Further Resources and Advice
- HSE Lone Working – free guidance
- Suzy Lamplugh Trust: The go-to site for personal and workplace safety advice and up to date news on lone workers
Do you use any other app or system for lone workers? Let me know in the comments box below.