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Lone Working Risk Assessments

As with any other form of work, employers are expected to undertake a risk assessment before employees are allowed to work alone. In the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidance document ‘Working Alone’, a lone worker is defined as someone who works by themselves without close or direct supervision. Lone workers include those who:

  • work from a fixed base, such as one person working alone on a premises – for example, shops and petrol stations;
  • work separately from others on the same premises – for example, security staff – or work outside normal hours;
  • work away from a fixed base – for example, maintenance workers, healthcare workers, environment inspectors, agricultural and forestry workers and those working in enclosed spaces;
  • work at home; and
  • mobile workers – for example, taxi drivers.

Our expert consultants will use the following five step process when carrying out lone worker risk assessments:

  • Identify the hazards
  • Decide who might be harmed and how
  • Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions
  • Record the findings and provide information on how to implement them
  • Review the plan and update if necessary

Where lone working is unavoidable our consultants will consider the following as part of the risk assessment process:

  • How will contact with the lone worker be maintained during and at the end of the proposed works (for example phone calls)?
  • Is there a risk of violence?
  • Are young, pregnant or disabled workers particularly at risk if they work alone?
  • Are there any other reasons why the individual (for example a trainee) may be more vulnerable than others?
  • Do any staff members have any existing medical conditions which could make it unsuitable to work alone?
  • Are you adequately insured for lone working?
  • What happens if a person becomes ill, has an accident or there is an emergency?

Risk assessment enables hazards to be quantified and managed more effectively. However it is important that the risk assessment does what it is meant to do – predict the likelihood of injury and make employees amend their behaviour accordingly. While some aspects of lone working are inherently high risk, the failure to put systems in place to reduce recognised risk could leave employers open to charges of negligence and costly litigation.

Contact us to find out how we can help your business remain safe and compliant, or to arrange a free consultation with one of our expert consultants.

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