Lone and isolated workers
Not everyone works with others, either due to the nature of the task or the time the task is undertaken. Lone or isolated workers are people who are isolated from help because of where or when they are working, or the nature of the work they are doing.
This means lone workers aren’t as visible as their colleagues who work in pairs or teams. The result is that lone workers don’t have the visibility to others, when they have a medical event or need help, due to the location, time or nature of work being done.
mobile safety systems
safety at work
Profile of lone workers
Examples of isolated workers include:
- nursing staff attending to patients at their private residence for ‘home at care.’
- trade call outs after hours
- health and community workers
- facilities management
- sales representatives, including real estate agents
- security personnel
The risks to lone workers can be magnified with complex or physically demanding tasks or the added layer of fatigue due to the time of day.
Organisations that have staff working in isolation or by themselves, either part or full time, must have safety systems for those staff that enable them to:
- manage the risks associated with lone or isolated work; and
- provide a system of work that ensures effective communication with the worker.
It’s not just good business practice, its legislated in Australia and most advanced economies.
3. Level up your safety program
If you haven’t done so, stop and evaluate how activities are performed and whether they meet lone worker criteria. An ounce of prevention saves a pound of cure should a negative event occur. The first question that authorities will ask is about your safety system. ‘I don’t know’ is not response that plays out well in court.
Evaluating the risk
If it is identified you have staff which meet lone worker criteria, when developing controls to mitigate risks, consider:
- the length of time the person may be working alone
- the time of day when a person may be working alone
- the location of the work
- the nature of the work
- the skills and capabilities of the worker(s) including any medical considerations.
When developing policy and procedures, consider the following controls that can be applied to reduce lone worker risk including:
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) required
- communication systems
- movement records
- workplace layout and design
- training, information and instruction
- first aid access
Make smart decisions now and identify whether your staff are part or full time lone workers, and how you can get on the front foot to develop controls, which reduce risks and promote a confident and safe workforce.