Insight: 5 crucial steps to protect your lone workers

21st October 2019

Lone workers are those who work by themselves without close or direct supervision. Anybody who works alone, including contractors, self-employed people and employee, is classed as a ‘lone worker’.

There are more than 6 million lone workers in the UK, representing around 20% of the UK workforce. Sadly, according to statistics from the British Crime Survey, as many as 150 lone workers are attacked every day (both physically and verbally).

What risks are lone workers exposed to?

Risks that lone workers may encounter include:

  • accidents or emergencies arising out of the work, including inadequate provision of first aid
  • sudden illnesses
  • inadequate provision of rest, hygiene and welfare facilities
  • physical violence from members of the public and/or intruders

Businesses are therefore under increasing pressure to protect their lone workers, but how can you ensure those who work in isolation are safe at all times? The best possible response will of course depend on the role in question, the type of work carried out and the working environment, however below are 5 top tips for helping lone workers stay safe.

1) Raising awareness of the risks involved

According to The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) 147 workers were killed in 2018/19 with the main kinds of fatal accidents being:

  • Falls from height
  • Struck by moving vehicle
  • Struck by moving object
  • Contact with moving machinery
  • Trapped by something collapsing or overturning

As shocking as these statistics may be, 147 deaths marks an improvement on the previous three years, showing health and safety is improving throughout the UK – but there’s still work to do. One of the most effective methods for improving safety at work is by adopting an educational approach, but it shouldn’t just stop at health and safety. Companies should train staff in dealing with accidents, physical attacks and criminal violence. The more knowledge your lone workers possess, the better their decision-making will be in the face of danger. 

2) Utilise state-of-the-art technology

With technology continuing to evolve, there’s lot of innovative communication and security systems to ensure lone workers do not feel vulnerable. Mobile phones, laptops, tablets and other devices can be used to communicate with members of staff, whilst panic buttons and personal safety devices can also ensure lone workers feel safer, calling for help vigilantly in threatening situations. Companies can also take advantage of sophisticated technology designed with critical communications in mind, like Sygnal's mobile app, which ensures lone workers can easily send and receive communications relating to their location and current situation. They can also receive automatic alerts and notifications of any potential threats or incidents that have occurred in their vicinity, and easily communicate with staff to help formulate warnings and monitor situations.

3) Optimise decision-making

As important as it is to ensure lone workers are well prepared for potentially dangerous situations, one of the most effective methods for increasing safety is by taking on a proactive approach, optimising decision-making. During an incident, it is essential that staff not only know what has already happened, but also offer constant communication, assessment and recommendations to help support actions. With Sygnal you’re able to store all communication activity as well as research carried out by analysts, to answer the following questions:

  • What is happening?
  • Why did it occur?
  • What could happen?
  • What action should we take?
  • What did we learn?

4) Make others aware of their whereabouts

When employees are scheduled to be working on their own, it’s critical to ensure team members know exactly where they are at any given hour. It is also in a company’s best interests to recommend that their lone workers let their family members know when they’re going to be working independently in case an emergency situation unfolds. 

5) Develop a lone worker policy

With an effective lone worker policy in place, companies can define risks and responsibilities when working in isolation. This should include support on reporting incidents, plus any relevant guidance and contact details. With Synapse, risks and threats can be reported quickly and efficiently, no matter how complex they may be.

Synapse leads the way in terms of providing real-time reporting to enable proactive planning and optimised decision-making during major incidents, reducing response times and enhancing the safety of people, assets and locations. It’s proved to be highly effective in helping lone workers build clear reports for analysis, establishing priorities and actions with accuracy.

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