Every organisation’s top priority should be keeping their employees safe. When writing or reviewing your organisation’s work health and safety policies, a key consideration should be the protection of your lone workers.
In order to properly safeguard all of your employees -- and meet your legal workplace health and safety obligations -- it’s imperative to identify whether or not your organisation requires a lone worker safety solution.
To understand your organisation’s lone worker safety requirements, you must examine:
- Your local government’s official definitions for lone, isolated and remote workers;
- The potential hazards and risks your lone workers will encounter;
- Your lone workers’ feedback, concerns, and feelings regarding working alone.
What is a lone worker?
If you are considering deploying a lone worker safety solution, firstly you must understand what a lone worker is, what their job entails, and the conditions in which they work.
Defining a lone worker is not as simple and straightforward as a person who works alone.
The Australian Government’s Comcare Guide to Remote or Isolated Work defines lone workers as those who “work by themselves and/or work in the community with only limited support arrangements, which therefore expose them to risk by being isolated from the usual back-up support. This is the case whether they regularly work alone or are only occasionally alone and do not have access to immediate support from managers or other colleagues.”
Consider all of your employees, contractors, and volunteers to discern whether they fall under this definition.
What is isolated or remote work?
Comcare’s Guide to Remote or Isolated Work also details that isolated work can “involve work activities undertaken in an isolated area, on or off site, either during or outside normal working hours.”
Meanwhile, remote work can involve “activities undertaken at a location removed from an office environment where there are few people and where communications and travel are difficult.” Remote work can include land and sea activities, within the country or overseas.
Even if other people are close by, a worker can still be considered remote or isolated. Employees are considered to be working in isolation or remotely if they:
● Physically work alone (example: council inspectors, site surveyors)
● Work separately from others (example: cleaners)
● Work from home (example: telecommuters)
● Work unsupervised (example: social workers, service technicians)
● Work outside normal working hours (example: on-call nurses, security guards)
● Work in geographical isolation (example: park rangers, environmental scientists)
● Work on a reduced roster (example: on public holidays)
● Work in isolation with members of the public (example: in-home health professionals, community services volunteers)
● Travel as a part of the job (example: regional client visits)
● Travel long distances (example: delivery truck drivers)
If your organisation employs anyone that fits the above definitions for lone, isolated, or remote workers, then it is your organisation’s duty to ensure proper processes and procedures are in place to protect them.
What potential hazards and risks do your lone workers face?
Once you have discovered which staff are considered lone workers, you must identify the potential hazards and risks they face on the job.
For example, lone workers may be at risk if they:
● Are in an unknown location
● Work with patients and their families
● Engage in community outreach services and activities
● Drive long distances alone
● Work with dangerous machinery
● Experience a sudden health emergency, such as a heart attack
● Are not regularly surrounded by colleagues
The above examples do not form an exhaustive list of the hazards and risks that lone, isolated, and remote workers face on a daily basis.
Carefully consider the potential safety threats that could occur, and note that many of the potential hazards and risks may not seem immediately obvious.
Have your employees reported feeling uncomfortable or unsafe?
Once you have assessed the potential risks posed to your mobile workforce, you should consider the key stakeholders themselves. Another simple, yet powerful way to identify if your organisation requires a lone worker solution is to liaise with your employees.
Have you received any reports of employees feeling uncomfortable or unsafe while working alone?
Can you speak one-on-one with employees to uncover their concerns or previous experiences while at work?
Is it possible to disseminate an anonymous survey in which lone-working employees can disclose their health and safety needs and concerns?
Does your organisation have any records of previous incidents?
This data will be instrumental in informing whether your organisation requires a lone worker safety solution, and which kind of solution is best for your business.
Lone worker safety, made easy.
Every business needs a process in place to ensure the safety of their lone workers and an ability to demonstrate that the procedures are followed.
When it comes to lone worker safety solutions, SHEQSY’s smartphone app is cost-effective, user-friendly, and easily implemented.
Simply deployed as a cloud-based app on iOS and Android smartphones, SHEQSY provides an innovative and intuitive lone worker safety platform with no upfront hardware or setup costs. Visualise employees with activity countdown timers and generate real-time alerts when an employee overstays an activity, misses a check-in or activates their duress alarm.