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What is a Lone or Remote Worker?

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Lone Worker, Remote Worker, lone working, lone worker safety, solo worker

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.

An article by OHS Reps goes into detail about the risk a remote worker may face, stating that:

“People who work alone could be at increased risk through using machinery or handling chemicals without help or being placed under stress through social isolation. But, in legal terms, there is no simple answer which applies in all circumstances.”

The Legal Requirements for Lone or Remote Workers

There is no law that prevents employees from working alone, in many circumstances it is safe to do so. But lone working employees need the same level of safety as their non-lone working colleagues. Being a remote worker doesn’t mean you should compromise on your personal safetyThe Occupational Health and Safety Act (2004) states that:

“An employer shall provide and maintain so far as is reasonably practicable for employees a working environment that is safe and without risks to health.” [Section 21(1)]

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:

  • Manage the health and safety risks to lone workers, activities could include:
    • Conducting a risk assessment
    • Identifying and assessing the risks or hazards
    • Implementing controls for risk mitigation
    • Continual maintenance of the controls
  • Have effective communication systems in place to communicate with lone workers.
    • Create and promote a Lone Worker Safety Policy
    • Introduce Lone Worker Safety Tools

Who Is At Risk?

Various professions may involve lone or remote work, and it’s essential to recognise that some employees may only experience this situation intermittently. While many individuals work in office settings with colleagues for most of the day, certain roles require off-site activities for work-related duties. For instance, real estate agents or property managers may host open viewings or conduct routine inspections, functioning remotely during these tasks without immediate colleague assistance or direct supervision.
 
Other at-risk professions include (but are not limited to):
  • Social/Community workers
  • Electrical/Maintenance workers
  • Emergency services
  • Horticultural workers
  • Nurses & Carers
  • Parking attendants
  • Retail workers
  • Transport workers
  • Taxi drivers
WorkSafe Guardian supports workers to be in control of their safety. Lone worker risks for real estate agents, construction workers, warehousing and transportation.

Do You Employ Lone or Remote Workers?

Now that you are familiar with the common definitions, do you employ any lone or remote workers? If you do, are you doing everything that is considered “reasonably practicable” to keep them safe? Safety is about people and making sure that everyone goes home safely to their loved ones at the end of the day. If you can do more to ensure this, you are not only legally but morally obliged to do it.
 
A Lone Worker Safety System like the WSG App is a great place to start. It’s low cost, helps manage your compliance with duty of care requirements and allows your lone workers to feel safe when operating alone. WorkSafe Guardian helps give everyone the kind of peace of mind you can’t put a price on.
 
If you are looking at hiring or have lone or remote working teams there are some websites that provide useful information on how to do so effectively. However, it is essential that you take their wellbeing and safety into consideration as well as the potential benefits and risks to your business.

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Lone Worker, Remote Worker, lone working, lone worker safety, solo worker

What is a Lone or Remote Worker?

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.

Read More »

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