Lone worker risks & hazards
Hazards of working alone
There are many hazards of lone working. Working alone carries increased risk because any dangers faced are encountered alone. For example, should a lone working employee become ill, have an accident or suffer an injury there isn’t anyone to assist them. In addition, working alone can make individuals more vulnerable to violence, theft or antisocial behaviour as they may be seen as an easier target.
Different types of employees face different hazards of lone working. NHS staff, social workers and security personnel may be faced with challenging behaviour from the public; estate agents and utility workers have to enter properties alone, and salespeople can spend a lot of time on the road putting them at a higher risk of road traffic accidents. Construction workers, engineers and surveyors are especially vulnerable to accidents or injury on site.
It is important that lone worker risk assessments are carried out for each individual job role and environment to ensure that the full picture of risks is understood and planned for.
Lone worker risks
When working alone, the risk should not be higher than that of any other employee. Lone working policies and procedures should be put in place to mitigate any risks from hazards present in the workplace.
What is the difference between risks and hazards?
A hazard is anything that may cause harm to an employee. The type of hazards present in the workplace will vary depending on a range of factors such as the type of work being carried out, which individuals are involved and the work environment.
Some examples of common workplace hazards include;
- Violence and aggression from clients or members of the public
- Spills, cables and other tripping hazards
- Working at height such as ladders, scaffolding and roofing
- Operating machinery and equipment
- Working with electricity, chemicals and other harmful substances
- Heavy lifting, repetitive movements and vibration
Risk then refers to the chance of the employee being harmed by the hazard alongside an indication of how serious the harm could be.
For those working alone, the level of harm is likely to be higher if additional procedures and systems are not put in place. This is because those working alongside colleagues are able to receive immediate support when something goes wrong.
Violence and aggression is a common hazard associated with home visits. If home visits are being carried out alone and a client begins to show signs of aggression the risk will be higher if;
- They have not had training on handling violence and aggression
- No colleagues are around to back them up or provide support
- They do not have a way of signalling for help
Slips, trips and falls are one of the most common causes of injuries in the workplace. If an employee suffers from a fall on a busy work site, it is likely that someone is able to offer immediate first aid while another employee calls for medical assistance. If, however, an employee is on site where no one can hear or see them and they suffer a fall, the level of harm in increased if;
- There are no systems in place that allows them to call for assistance or are not equipped with a man down alarm.
- They are not being monitored and their exact location is not known to the employer, a colleague or emergency services
- Guide To Lone Working
- What is a lone worker?
- Lone worker risks & hazards
- Is working alone legal?
- Lone worker risk assessment
- Developing your lone worker policy