Lone working is on the rise, and you have a legal and moral responsibility to protect your lone workers. Providing a lone worker protection system is only the start. You also have to make sure your workers understand it and can access it effectively. Here are the six key steps to take:
1. Identify all your lone workers
You may think it’s obvious who your lone workers are, but have you missed any? The last worker in the office at night? The utility engineer who’s with customers but away from colleagues? The team member who works from home?
2. Keep updating risk assessments
Don’t just do a risk assessment once, treat it as a working document to be updated with any new risks you identify. The law requires companies that employ lone workers to think through any risks they might face, and put strategies in place to manage those risks. Each group of workers needs a written procedure that includes a summary of the risk assessment and an alert and escalation protocol.
3. Make sure your system is helpful, not helpy
“Helpiness” is pseudo-help that actually makes things worse. Many lone worker support systems overburden users with complex processes and admin. Ask your lone workers if your system makes things easier for them or harder. How easy is it for them to raise an alert or respond to a routine safety check? How much time are they wasting deactivating false alarms?
4. Suit devices to individual situations
Different lone working situations carry different risks. For example, workers in remote areas where the mobile signal is weak will need a satellite device. Customer-facing workers probably need a wearable device that makes it easy to raise an SOS. Home or office workers should be able to access the system from their desktop.
5. Make sure your system supports management and auditing
Your system should allow staff to set up an individual profile for each lone worker. It should provide clear high-quality data both for auditing purposes, and so your team leaders can monitor lone workers’ safety.
6. Train your lone workers
The lone worker industry doesn’t have a good track record when it comes to lone workers actually using their safety systems. Often because they haven’t been properly trained and are not sure what might happen if they raise an alert. Make sure your system is user-friendly and intuitive, but also take the time to provide each worker with full training and someone they can contact with any questions.