The UK has approximately 6.8 million lone workers, which account for 20% of the total workforce. The percentage is expected to rise as more people shift to remote work.
It's a popular misconception that the term "lone worker" only refers to persons who work entirely on their own. Although some lone workers do fit this description, the term refers to a much broader category.
Lone workers are defined by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) as "those who work by themselves without close or direct supervision", which encompasses a variety of professions across a wide range of industries.
Persons who work alone at a store, kiosk, workshop or petrol station
Persons whose jobs regularly require them to work alone for extended periods, such as factory or warehouse workers
Service workers : Company representatives whose jobs include going to people's homes and businesses
Remote and homeworkers.
A lot of different jobs may require people working alone, so lone workers come from a variety of backgrounds. Social workers, nurses, scientists, shop assistants, factory works, drivers – they all have jobs that can involve lone working.
Lone workers are exposed to the same risks as other workers, but if something goes wrong, they may not have someone close by to help them.
The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, as amended, and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 are the major pieces of law covering occupational health and safety in the United Kingdom.
RIDDOR or Reporting of Injuries, Diseases, and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations govern the reporting of workplace accidents and injuries, allowing the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to keep track of accident trends, detect patterns and problems, and conduct investigations into compliance violations.
Employers in the United Kingdom are legally required to protect all of their employees, including lone workers. They must evaluate the health and safety risks of each work-related activity, and the challenges that must be addressed for lone workers can differ significantly from those of other employees.
It's the employer's responsibility to address these challenges and provide lone workers with training, support and supervision. Failing to meet their responsibilities can lead to accidents and injuries, so the employer can expect investigations and sanctions from the HSE and litigation. The affected lone workers have the right to sue their employers and claim compensation for the damage resulting from this failure.
It's essential to have a comprehensive policy that clearly describes the company's protocols for lone working and to foster a culture that promotes health and safety.
Risk Assessment and Management
As previously states, UK employers have a duty of care toward all their employees. This includes lone works, contractors, self-employed people and volunteers. They can't pass their responsibilities to someone else, such as the employees themselves, through clauses in their contracts.
Lone working is generally safe, but UK businesses are still legally required to examine and resolve any potential health and safety risks before letting people begin working.
Here are some of the measures employers are required to take to protect lone workers:
Although it is not required by law to conduct a separate risk assessment for lone workers, businesses must examine the risks related to lone workers and include them in their overall risk assessment. They must also take preventative and mitigating steps, such as:
The appropriate amount of supervision for lone workers will be determined by the risk assessment. Certain high-risk operations, such as working in confined spaces, in close proximity to live electricity conductors, fumigation, or work involving explosives, may require the presence of at least one other person.
Companies need to prepare emergency protocols and provide their employees with training. If an accident does happen, the employees need to know what to do to reduce the potential damage to themselves and the people around them.
During their training, they should learn how to administer first aid to others and themselves, who they can contact for help, how to get help and when and how to notify their employer or supervisor of the incident. They'll also need the means to practice what they've learned.
It's possible for lone working to have an adverse effect on mental health. Research shows that the relationships people build with their coworkers can help them cope better with stress. Through the nature of their jobs, lone workers have reduced access to emotional support from their coworkers.
To address this issue, companies must implement procedures that allow for direct communication between lone workers and management otherwise they might begin to feel isolated, which can lead to increased stress, mental health problems, and poor performance. Supervisors and managers should also receive training so they can recognize signs of distress and mental health challenges during these communications.
Employers must evaluate mental health risks and take steps to mitigate or eliminate them. They must also make reasonable adjustments for workers who have pre-existing mental health conditions in accordance with the Equality Act 2010.
Workplace problems can worsen the symptoms of mental health conditions, and it is the legal duty of the employer to assist their employees whether work is the cause of or only an aggravating element.
50 Unusual and Brilliant Business card designs and ideas for you