5 Steps to Identify Lone Working Risks

5 Steps to Identify Lone Working Risks

Lone working 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 working 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.

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1. Identify the Essence of the Lone Work

There are multitudes of different jobs and industries that require lone work, as such, 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 hazards 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?

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2. Identify the Location of the Work

The location of employees work in 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)

For more information on lone worker GPS tracking please see our blog: Why only App-Based Safety Devices can have Location Tuning.

3. Identify Communications Methods

Communication is essential for modern businesses to function, but when it comes to lone workers communication is essential for safety.  Important questions to ask about lone worker communications are:

  • 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? For example, 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? For example, 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. If you need some advice on choosing between the different types of devices and apps available, please see our previous blog: What to ask when Choosing Between Safety Apps and Devices.

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.

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? Also, has everyone been shown where it is?
  • If so, is first aid equipment regularly checked and stocked?
  • Are lone working employees properly trained in first aid?

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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? For example, will someone come by every few minutes or will it be hours?
  • Will increased time alone increase the risks, e.g. fatigue?
  • Will weather factors be an issue, e.g. changing conditions of the time period?

Lone Working Risks are Unique

Lone working 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 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. At the same time, if you are having trouble we are always available to if you want to ask some questions.

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