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5 Steps to Identify Lone Worker Risks

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5 Steps to Identify Lone Worker or Remote Worker Risks, lone worker risks, remote worker risks, working alone risks, identifying work risks

Lone worker risks are part and parcel of working alone, but the first step to reducing a risk is being able to identify it. Working alone is often a necessity, and more often than not, there is no harm in doing so. It is important however, to maintain the same safety practices that you would for a team of employees and good safety practices always include identifying risks.

Before getting started on the 5 steps to identify lone worker risks, there is one important question to ask: Is it safe to do this work alone? If the answer is no, then no amount of risk identification is going to help and extra staff need to be allocated for the job.

Step 1. Identify the Essence of the Lone Work

There are multitudes of different jobs and industries that require lone work, and so the type of lone work can differ greatly. There are several questions you can ask to identify the essence of the lone work, which also helps you identify the specific risk associated with it:

  • Is the use of heavy machinery required?
  • Is it a requirement to work with hazardous chemicals?
  • What is the likelihood of aggressive behaviour?
  • Is there a requirement to perform repetitive tasks?
  • Are there high-risk activities involved, e.g. working from heights?
  • Are there extreme weather conditions, either heat or cold?

Step 2. Identify the Location of the Work

The location employees work can have a significant impact on the types of risks that they face. With this in mind, important questions to ask include:

  • Is the work carried out in a fixed location, e.g. a warehouse?
  • If, yes: does the fixed location have a monitored alarm system?
  • Is the work carried out in a high crime area?
  • Is the area the work is carried out in well lit?
  • Can the location be considered remote or isolated?
  • Is the location easily located during an emergency, e.g. GPS tracking?

Step 3. Identify Communication Methods

Communication is essential for modern businesses to function, but when it comes to lone workers – communication is essential for safety.  Communication measures that should be considered here, include the following:

  • Is the lone worker easily contactable?
  • Is the lone worker able to quickly raise an alert in an emergency?
  • Are there procedures in place for regular contact, e.g. automated check-in services?
  • Is there a response procedure in place in the event of contact with emergency services?
  • Are the employees supplied with a lone worker safety device for monitoring and emergencies, e.g. a safety app?

A lone worker safety device is perhaps the most important piece of equipment for a lone worker and by combining this with a communications device, like a smartphone, you are increasing the safety of your employees two-fold.

The best lone worker safety solutions, like the WSG app, also come with pre-determined individual response procedures. These response procedures are discussed and outlined beforehand with each client, that way they are designed to fit your needs.

Step 4. Identify First Aid Issues

When working alone it is essential that employees have the training and equipment to be able to administer first aid while waiting for help, which they should be able to call for with their communications method! Important questions to keep in mind regarding first aid and identifying possible hazards include:

  • Is there first aid equipment readily available and has everyone been shown where it is?
  • Is first aid equipment regularly checked and stocked?
  • Are lone working employees properly trained in first aid?

Step 5. Identify the Length of Lone Work Required

Often, lone working risks can increase or decrease depending on the amount of time an employee is required to work alone. When identifying lone working risks, it’s important to note the following things:

  • How long will the worker be required to be alone, e.g. will someone come by every few minutes or will it be hours?
  • Does increased time alone increase the risks, e.g. fatigue?
  • Are weather factors an issue?

Lone Worker Risks are Unique

Lone worker risks are different for each situation. Therefore, it is necessary to carry out a lone worker risk assessment every time a new lone working situation occurs. Or likewise, every time a new lone working employee starts. It is also important to ensure that there is an action plan in place, there is no point identifying risks if you don’t take action afterwards. 

Hopefully, by answering the above questions you will be able to start forming your own unique risk assessment guidelines.

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