Did you know that you’re considered a lone worker if you’re working on the same site as someone else, but are in an isolated area conducting high hazard work? Field workers frequently find themselves in this situation where they may be working alone. There also are also more lone administrative workers since COVID, due to everyone doing remote work. Lone workers are those who work by themselves without close or direct supervision. There are many dangers that lone workers face on the job. This could include working outdoors, indoors, driving, or working in remote areas. Employers must manage any health and safety risks before people can work alone which applies to their workers, anyone contracted to work for them, as well as self-employed people.
How do you manage the risks of lone work?
Lone workers must be trained, supervised, and monitored. They must be kept in touch with, have frequent check ins, and have any incident responded to. If a lone worker is working at another workplace, the employer must provide information about any risks and control measures to make sure the lone worker is protected.
What are some risks to consider?
Some specific risks that affect lone workers are but not limited to:
1) Violence and Harassment in the workplace.
2) Mental health and stress.
3) Their medical suitability to work alone.
4) The workplace itself (ex. If it’s an isolated area).
Monitoring and keeping in touch
Managers must have direct contact with their lone workers to be able to detect any signs of stress as early as possible, and this also helps maintain the psychological safety. Having good working alone processes, monitoring systems, and procedures in place can help lessen some of the hazards of working alone. Here are some examples that could be used:
- Supervisors/managers should ensure that the employee is capable and competent in their role prior to being permitted to work alone.
- Knowing the location of the workers.
- Pre-agreed intervals of regular contact using cell phones, email, etc.
These systems and all emergency procedures should be frequently tested to ensure lone workers are able to be contacted in case an emergency is detected.