How Does Health and Safety Apply To Lone Workers

Posted on written by Sam Barton

Many people in the UK are deemed as ‘lone workers’.

If you regularly work by yourself without direct supervision, then you fall under this category. In fact, many people don’t even realise they are lone workers because while they might physically work with other people, they don’t work with their manager or the rest of their colleagues.

What does the law say in regards to lone workers and what health and safety measures need to be taken to protect and safeguard those that work on their own?

Legal Requirements Of Lone Working

Lone workers are no different than anyone else. They still fall under the same health and safety policies as other staff.

The two pieces of legislation that govern the legal requirements for lone working are The Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) and The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (1999). There is also a code of practice known as BS 8484:201. These laws and regulations set out the broad frameworks to ensure that lone workers are safe.

There isn’t anything to say that someone can’t be a lone worker however several things need to be taken into consideration before someone can work alone and one of these is a risk assessment.

Risk Assessments Are Critical

While risk assessments should be carried out for all staff whether they work in a team or by themselves at another location, it is perhaps more important for lone workers.

This includes an assessment to ensure that the worker can deal with any difficulties by themselves, the environment they will be working in and when supervision may be required. It should also determine limits on what the lone worker can and cannot do.

Another consideration is the increased risk of violence toward someone that is working by themselves.

Lone Workers And Emergencies

A key part of working alone is the facilities available should there be an emergency. When an incident happens at work everyone can usually help out however if a person is truly working by themselves then how do they deal with this?

Lone workers need to be adequately prepared. This can include providing a mobile phone to call for help, having the proper training to deal with an emergency and access to things such as a standard first aid kit.

These are all essential to ensure that the lone worker is prepared to deal with most circumstances.

Ensuring That Lone Workers Are Safe

No-one can guarantee a lone worker’s safety.

That being said, by taking proper steps to make sure that there has been a risk assessment carried out, providing them with the proper training and equipment and also ensuring that their roles comply with the relevant legislation, then as an employer you have followed the correct procedure.

Working alone can be appealing to many employees and, in fact, a lot of people don’t even realise that they are lone workers. As an employer, the emphasis is on ensuring safety and this isn’t any different for a lone worker or someone that you see every day in the office.

 

Man in shirt and tie in warehouse - lone worker safety

2 Responses to “How Does Health and Safety Apply To Lone Workers”

  1. Rodger Cloer

    My employer has put me in a shop that has only two lifts in it all by myself with no help at all.so if the vehicle was to fall or any other indecent i would not be able to get help and know one would even know unless someone just happened to come to my building. Isn’t there a law against doing this. I don’t feel comfortable and im made to feel isolated. What do i do or do i have legal recourse towards them.

    Reply
    • Sam Barton

      Hi Rodger,

      Your employer has a duty of care towards you, they should have a risk assessment in place for lone workers, you could ask to see that. If they don’t have one they should write one and put controls in place to reduce the risk to your safety. If they won’t produce a risk assessment and you don’t feel safe you shouldn’t do the work.

      You could report them to the HSE, however, I would suggest working with them to improve the situation before doing that. Helping them improve the safety of the role protects them from the costs of accidents and keeps you safe, an employer should welcome your feedback.

      I hope that helps.

      Kind regards,
      Sam

      Reply

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