Powering Prevention for Lone Workers

Powering Prevention for Lone Workers

Workplace violence and occupational hazards are a growing concern for businesses that employ onsite and offsite workers. On average, OSHA reports workplace violence affects 2 million American workers and workplace injuries cost U.S. businesses approximately $52 Billion dollars per year. Across industries, increased automation and the mobility of the workforce means employees are no longer required to be in close proximity to supervisors and co-workers. 

These lone workers are at increased risk for workplace injury, physical assault, and unaddressed medical emergencies. Here, we provide an overview of lone workers, discuss examples and challenges, and present safety best practices and the value of mobile risk intelligence platforms in lone worker safety.

Who Are Lone Workers?

Lone workers are individuals who work without co-workers or supervisors in the vicinity. This can mean that they are especially vulnerable if their job site is in an unprotected or unpredictable environment. Robbery, physical assault, verbal abuse, harassment, injuries and even animal encounters are just a few of the dangers that lone workers face as a result of working out of vehicles, customers’ homes, and on work sites.

Types of Lone Workers & Their Challenges

  1. Drivers: Couriers and delivery drivers encounter a range of risks while carrying out their routes. The challenges they face include physical injuries like slips and falls during deliveries, robberies and carjackings, and driving through high-risk areas, in addition to traffic accidents while on the road.
  2. Utility Workers: Utility workers — especially those at electric and gas companies who handle hazardous materials — are often exposed to dangerous weather conditions during outages. They may contend with frustrated or hostile customers or members of the public while completing service repairs. Utility workers also face the unique possibility of falling out of cherry pickers with few options to quickly seek medical attention and report injuries to their organization.
  3. Cable Installers: Cable installers, similar to utility workers, are exposed to unsafe weather conditions and encounter elevated risk due to the isolated environment of working in customers’ homes. 
  4. Health Care Workers: The CDC reports that the rate for assault on home health care providers is twice as high than the national average. Factors that compound the risk of violence include working with patients who have histories of mental health issues, substance abuse, or violence. Health care providers also experience a notable degree of assault, verbal abuse, and harassment from patients and their family members. Health care workers may also encounter instances of substance use, unsanitary conditions, firearms or even aggressive animals when working in patient homes. This leads to a significant level of occupational stress.
  5. Gig-economy Workers: An emerging yet loosely regulated industry is the gig economy, which is comprised of workers like rideshare drivers, food delivery drivers, and other freelance workers. Typical hazards include road-related incidents, harassment, and verbal or physical abuse from passengers. Since gig economy workers are classified as independent contractors, they are primarily responsible for their health and safety while working. This raises concerns with labor experts since gig employers are not required to comply with labor regulations and may not supply gig-employees with traditional safety measures.

Best Practices for Mitigating Lone Worker Risks

  1. Identify Risks: Conduct risk assessments, determine which employees could be harmed due to particular hazards, and incorporate risk mitigation policies into your organization’s lone worker policies.
  2. Empower Employees to Report Concerns: Provide access to a reliable, automated tool to report incidents of harassment, assault, safety hazards, or unsafe working conditions.
  3. Provide Access to Emergency Resources: In the event of an emergency, when every second counts, deploy a two-way communications tool that can provide resources and enable employees in high-risk situations to get the help they need.
  4. Implement Behavior-Based Safety Strategies: Identify the individual safety challenges that each employee experiences and encourage behavior-based self management rooted in personal values to encourage employees to align their safety actions with their beliefs. Provide numerous support channels to foster employee self-management.

Powering Prevention For Your Lone Workers

As the number of lone workers in the labor force increases, the need to engage employees on preventative safety measures and safety culture is growing urgent. It is vital to develop an intuitive reporting process and to provide easy-to-use tools that connect employees to safety information and support. An increasingly popular way to facilitate lone worker safety is by deploying a mobile risk intelligence communications platform that offers intuitive reporting processes, reliable mass notifications, customizable resources, and more. One such platform is Vector LiveSafe

Vector LiveSafe leverages the one device everyone has on their person - their smartphone. Within the Vector LiveSafe Mobile App, employees can receive important safety alerts, anonymously submit questions and concerns, access organization-specific resources, and engage in real-time conversations with security team members. There is also one-touch access to 911 and organizational security teams to ensure employees can immediately receive assistance in the event of an emergency.

This is particularly valuable for lone workers, as they can have immediate access to evacuation plans, risk assessment checklists and results, and security team support. To learn more about the role and value of mobile risk intelligence communications platforms, consider our recent buyer’s guide.

For further information about lone worker risks and safety considerations, download our free guide, "Lone Worker Safety: Risks, Considerations & Solutions."

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