Risk assessments are never easy. You have to take into account factors including the type of work, the location, and who will perform it. Even if you identify these, how do you judge the potential risks, what scale are they measured against? Many companies don’t know where to start, especially if they employ lone workers.
“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 backup 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.”
This means that real estate agents/property managers, taxi/transport workers, health care workers, nurses, salespeople, security staff, and in-home consultants are all lone workers at times. As well as the more commonly thought of lone workers such as farmers and engineers. A tradesman is a lone worker if they work on a level alone while a high rise is being constructed.
The first step then, is to identify if you employ or manage lone workers. They may be lone workers for short periods of time, but they are exposed to higher risks during these times. This is one of the reasons that a lone worker risk assessment is so important.
Is a risk assessment practical for staff who are in and out of the office all day? If you have lone workers in and out or travelling to various locations, it might seem impractical to do a risk assessment every time they leave. Even if you do a risk assessment what sort of scale is it measured on, and how long will it take to perform? It’s not going to happen if you have to spend hours performing a detailed risk assessment every time.
To combat this Walter Brennan developed a 90-second rapid risk assessment, its original use was for lone working nurses in the UK. WSG has adapted this rapid risk assessment for use across many industries. Our adapted rapid risk assessment is available for download at the bottom of this page. The rapid risk assessment works on a points system where you assign values for yes, no and unsure for each question. Once you answer the questions the total number of these answers provides you with a level of risk. 10 – 15 is low risk. 16 -23 is a medium level of risk. A high-risk situation is anything that scores above 24.
The rapid risk assessment WSG provides is designed to be used by the employees themselves. This means that there is no extra work or time pressure placed on managers. It takes approximately 90 seconds for an employee to complete and it ensures they’re aware of potential risks. It also ensures they have the opportunity to take the necessary precautions. This enhances a cooperative approach to lone worker safety and enhances employee engagement with their own safety measures. Robert Garcia calls this a “person-centred approach to health and safety”.
A rapid risk assessment also adds to fulfilling your duty of care in regards to lone worker safety. Lisa Berton, an employment law specialist, states that employers are required to take reasonable steps to minimise associated risks. Taking 90 seconds to perform a rapid risk assessment is a reasonable step. Likewise, implementing a risk assessment action plan also adds to fulfilling your duty of care.
The buddy system works by pairing employees together, providing mutual support and safety. This partnership can prove valuable, particularly during high-risk tasks or shifts. The buddy has proven its worth over decades. However, is it the most efficient and effective way to ensure employee safety?
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