Lone Workers – Health and Safety Concerns When Working Alone

Many people work alone in their workplace, without any other close supervision. This could include people in kiosks, shops, petrol stations, workshops and those who work at home. Also, it includes those who work separately from others in factories, warehouses, training establishments and leisure centres. Mobile workers who are away from their fixed base often work alone, as well as those performing cleaning work, electrical repairs, painting or vehicle recovery. Service workers, such as postal staff, rent collectors, pest control workers, drivers, estate agents and other professionals might also work alone for all or part of their workday.

Working alone is not illegal, but there are certain health and safety considerations that need to be made in order to make sure that the person working alone is safe. The employee who works alone should be trained in the appropriate health and safety courses for their position, so that they are aware of the risks and know how to keep themselves safe. Training is very important in a situation where the worker will have limited supervision. Also, lone workers will need to be able to adapt and deal with situations that are beyond their training – as well as knowing when to seek advice or call for help.

Also, a risk assessment should be conducted to determine what the risks are to the health and safety of the employee and how best to minimise these risks. If the risk assessment determines that it is not possible for the work to be performed safely by a lone worker, there should be a back-up person in place. There are some high risk activities where it is necessary for another person to be present, such as working within a high risk confined space or working with electricity. The other person fulfils the rescue role, in case an emergency or an accident occurs.

Health and Safety Factors When Working Alone

What are some of the factors that need to be considered when it comes to health and safety for those who work alone? Here are some things that you should keep in mind:

  • Does the lone worker have the appropriate first aid training and health and safety training and access to a first aid kit? Would they be able to treat minor injuries to themselves or members of the public?
  • The lone worker should have their own mobile phone or access to a phone so that they can seek help in case of an emergency.
  • Consider whether or not all of the goods and substances involved in the work can be safely handed by one person. Are the loads too large for one person to lift safely? Is more than one person required to operate the controls of the equipment?
  • Keep in mind the area that the lone worker is situation in and whether or not there is a risk of crime or violence. This is more of a risk if the lone worker is working the night shift.
  • Does the lone worker have a safe way in and out of the workplace? Do they know how to evacuate in the event of an emergency?
  • Does the lone worker have any medical condition that would make them unsuitable for working alone?
  • Also, there should be a system in place that confirms whether the lone worker has made a return to the base or to their home upon completion of their work.

With all of these considerations in mind, it should be determined whether or not the person is safe working alone and what should be done in the case of an emergency.