Lone working can enhance productivity and flexibility for many Australian businesses, but it also exposes lone workers to numerous risks and hazards. Without anyone to assist them in emergencies, lone workers can face serious harm from falls, attacks, or medical issues. In fact, Safe Work Australia reported that in 2021, 130,195 serious work health and safety claims were made, with 87% of serious claims being for injuries.
To keep lone workers safe, it’s essential to understand the Work Health and Safety legislation in Australia and the primary risks and hazards associated with lone working. This article aims to provide valuable insights on protecting lone workers and complying with the relevant Lone Worker legislation in Australia.
According to Safe Work Australia, anyone carrying out work activities without direct support or supervision from supervisors or colleagues is considered a lone worker. Essentially, if an employee cannot be seen or heard by a colleague, they are considered to be working alone, whether for the entire or part of their workday. This could range from healthcare workers conducting home visits to truck drivers on long-distance routes and there are many other professions where lone working is common.
Lone workers are exposed to various hazards and risks that may affect their safety and health. These hazards may include:
Lone workers face greater risks and hazards due to their isolation, and without adequate safety tools, these risks can escalate. It is the responsibility of employers to recognise and safeguard their lone workers, ensuring a secure work environment, minimising risks, and adhering to relevant legislation.
In Australia, lone workers and all employees are subject to the same Work Health and Safety (WHS) legislation, known as the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Cth). This legislation provides guidance to employers about acceptable Work Health and Safety practices in Australia. However, it is important to understand that each state and territory in Australia has individual WHS laws and regulatory enforcement.
To find out more about the relevant Work Health and Safety Laws that are relevant to your state, please click here.
While there are variations between states, every territory in Australia is required to comply with either the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH) or the Work Health and Safety Act (WHS).
Lone workers may be isolated from assistance due to their location, work schedule, or the nature of their tasks. As an employer in Australia, the model WHS Regulations (regulation 48) specifically addresses remote or isolated work.
This includes the requirement for employers to:
Complete a risk assessment using our Lone Worker Rapid Risk Assessment.
To keep in touch with lone workers and provide them with means to raise an alarm (if necessary), it is important to establish regular communication channels and procedures alongside appropriate lone worker safety tools.
One effective solution to help safeguard lone workers is to utilise a lone worker safety app, such as the WorkSafe Guardian App. WSG enables employers to protect their employees while they work, travel, or meet with clients in remote locations.
The WorkSafe Guardian App includes various features such as a safety and medical alert button and welfare check-ins. Alerts are managed by an external 24/7 monitoring service. In the event of an emergency, such as an accident or a failed check-in during a lone working session, the app can help locate the employee and quickly provide assistance.
Encouraging lone workers to use the WorkSafe Guardian App daily can help employees feel safe and secure in the workplace. Utilising lone worker apps, like the WorkSafe Guardian App, demonstrates a commitment to fulfilling an employer’s duty of care and reinforces a reputation as a responsible employer.
Through the implementation of thorough health and safety protocols and the use of a reliable lone worker app, employers can effectively reduce the risks and hazards that lone workers encounter daily. This not only enhances the safety and well-being of employees, but also communicates a positive message that their employer prioritises their welfare.
Learn more about the WorkSafe Guardian Solution here.
The above is WorkSafe Guardian’s commentary and by no means is it an interpretation of the law. We strongly suggest that if the information contained in this article has raised concerns or sparked interest that you seek legal and professional assistance.