Due to the nature of their roles, lone workers face numerous hazards on a daily basis. It is important for every employer to identify and mitigate all of the risks that their workers may face by carrying out a full risk assessment. By identifying potential hazards at your workplace, you will be better prepared to eliminate them and prevent potential accidents and injuries.
See our info-graphic on the 6 types of hazards in the work place.
1) Safety hazards
Safety hazards can affect any employee but these are more likely to affect those who work with machinery or on a construction site. Safety hazards include slips, trips and falls, operating dangerous machinery and electrical hazards. Those that work in the utility sector are more likely to be at risk of safety hazards. The HSE reports that in the UK between 2018 and 2019, 40 people were killed after falling from height at work, 30 were killed by a moving vehicle and 14 died after being in contact with dangerous machinery.
2) Biological hazards
Biological hazards are extremely dangerous. These include exposure to dangerous substances and diseases associated with working amongst animals, people, or infectious plant materials. Employees who work in hospitals, laboratories or various other outdoor occupations are at risk from biological hazards. Statistics taken from the HSE state that in 2017, there were 2,523 mesothelioma deaths due to past asbestos exposures.
3) Physical hazards
Physical hazards can affect those who work in extreme weather conditions or in harmful environments. Workers that are exposed to continuous loud noise, radiation, sun rays and ultraviolet rays could be at risk. Physical hazards most commonly affect individuals who work outside in the sun for long periods of time. There are an estimated 23,000 workers with work-related hearing problems, according to statistics taken from the HSE.
4) Ergonomic hazards
Ergonomic hazards affect individuals whose work puts a strain on their body. Manual roles that require lifting or sitting for long periods can cause damage over time. These hazards may not be noticeable at first which makes them much harder to identify. If your staff use improperly adjusted workstations or have poor posture when performing manual roles and heavy lifting, they may be at risk of injury. Of the 555,000 non-fatal injuries to workers in 2017/18, 21% were due to handling, lifting or carrying heavy objects according to statistics taken from the HSE.
5) Chemical hazards
Chemical hazards mainly threaten employees whose roles expose them to dangerous liquids, solvents or flammable gases. Individuals who are most likely to be affected are those working in cleaning facilities, engineers and employees in field based roles. Exposure to harmful chemicals can cause illness, skin irritation, breathing problems and, in extreme cases, death. Figures taken from the HSE show that between 2017 and 2018, there were 100 different incidents of carbon monoxide poisoning within Great Britain.
6) Workload hazards
Workload hazards include issues that could cause stress or strain, such as workload, violence or aggression. These hazards can be experienced in any job role, however, lone workers may struggle to voice concerns due to their isolated work environment. Information taken from the Labour Force Survey suggests that out of 1.4 million workers studied, at least 44% suffer with work related stress, depression or anxiety.
Employers can better protect their staff by making sure a full risk assessment has been conducted and considering their lone worker policy as part of this. For lone working employees, several solutions have been developed that can help to minimise risk including apps that provide assistance in the event of an emergency.
The StaySafe lone working solution
StaySafe offers employers with a simple and effective way to monitor the safety of their remote working staff. Comprised of an app and online hub, StaySafe provides employers with real-time updates on employee’s safety status and location while they work.
The app includes a man down feature which can alert monitoring services if an employee has not moved or checked-in for a prolonged period of time. If an employee feels threatened or under attack, they can also raise an alarm discreetly by using the phone’s power button.
When an alert is raised by a lone worker, chosen monitors, either within the organisation or via a professional monitoring station, will be alerted. This will allow them to verify the alert and dispatch the appropriate assistance to the employee.