Regardless of the industry, there are several threats that all lone workers face, namely unaddressed workplace accidents or emergencies, inadequate rest and breaks, and physical violence. To ensure lone worker safety and regulatory compliance, organizations should regularly complete lone worker risk assessments and develop corresponding lone worker policies. Here, we describe these procedures and provide key guidance and insights.
Lone worker risk assessments are an important component of maintaining regulatory compliance and ensuring duty of care is met for lone workers. These assessments are broken down into two categories: formal risk assessments and dynamic risk assessments.
Formal risk assessments, which are typically done before an employee begins working, are systematic, evidence-based reviews that include the identification of regular workplace hazards, typical working environments, and people who may come in contact with the lone worker.
Formal risk assessments occur on a regular basis, are prepared in advance, and are carefully recorded and monitored. The results of these assessments serve to help employers identify appropriate measures for preventing and addressing lone worker safety and security concerns. To conduct these assessments, many organizations use a risk matrix.
In addition to formal risk assessments, employers often need to conduct dynamic risk assessments (DRAs). Dynamic risk assessment is the process of continually observing and analyzing hazards in order to remain aware and responsive to changing threats. These are typically mental assessments that employees or employees perform on the spot when entering a new or high-risk environment.
DRAs are more reactive than traditional risk assessments, and they are ongoing and situational. When arriving in a new or potentially threatening environment, on-the-spot DRAs typically break down into a few core components:
In day-to-day operations, a formal risk assessment should be conducted for the typical working environment of a lone worker, while dynamic risk assessments can come in handy when a work experience is beyond that scope. For example, a lone public works employee may encounter unexpected flooding or an aggressive client; these are not risks that a formal assessment would not have been able to identify ahead of time. In this situation, the lone worker will have to assess and then attempt to mitigate the risk on the spot using a dynamic risk assessment. Both types of risk assessment should be regularly conducted by both employers and employees.
After conducting a thorough risk assessment, employers should develop comprehensive lone worker safety policies. These policies are written guides that present common and potential risks as well as your organization’s rules and expectations for lone workers. They should include your completed risk assessment, clear safety and health instructions, and details of your organization's lone worker solutions (ex: hazard reporting tools).
When developing your policy, here is some guidance to keep in mind:
Lone worker procedures are a critical component of this policy. A series of procedures should be developed to address a range of worker risks and considerations. This may include the following:
Once you have developed a lone worker policy and corresponding procedures, host a briefing and training session so that employees are aware of their responsibilities when working alone. Employees should also be made aware of the policy’s location so that they know how and where to access it in times of need.
Lone worker safety is a key concern for organizations of all sizes in all industries. To maintain lone worker safety on worksites, in the workplace, and on the road, employers should prioritize comprehensive risk assessments and develop effective lone worker policies. In addition to these processes, many organizations may benefit from deploying a mobile risk intelligence communications platform such as Vector LiveSafe.
With features such as mass notifications, anonymous tip submission, and customizable resources, Vector LiveSafe empowers your lone workers to stay safe, regardless of their worksite. To learn more about how Vector LiveSafe can protect your workforce and facilitate incident prevention, download the LiveSafe Feature Flyer or request a demo.
For further information about lone worker risks and safety considerations, download our free guide, "Lone Worker Safety: Risks, Considerations & Solutions."