If you read the news, it’s easy to see that the most feared threats to lone worker safety include physical violence. A lone worker is much more vulnerable from the public or even from fellow employees, and they can be targeted for assault or even murder because no one else can call for help or assist in defending the employee.
The other serious threats include sustaining injuries on the job or suddenly becoming ill. The medical condition may be serious enough that the worker would be unable to ask for help. First aid and emergency healthcare treatments may come too late.
But there are more subtle threats to lone workers that just assault, serious injuries, and sudden illnesses. These include the mistake of not providing adequate measures and facilities for rest, hygiene, and other worker welfare factors.
Workers can’t work for too many hours continuously, and there should be periods of break time when they can rest. This is especially true for workers who need to stand during work for hours at a time.
There should also be places where workers can go to so that they can rest. An office canteen is a good place for this, though employees should not be obligated to buy anything there just so they can sit down and rest.
If a lone worker works for 8 hours at a time, then they should be able to have a place to take a break and eat as well. A proper rest and dining facility must easily be available. If the worker brings their own food, then the employer should make sure that there are facilities that can heat the food for the employee. A kettle and a microwave oven should available at the very least.
People need to drink lots of water each day to remain healthy. This means that lone workers must have enough accessible drinking water. Tap water should be fine, but for lone workers out in the field the employer should make sure that they’re provided with enough bottled water for the whole working day.
Sanitation and Washing
Sanitary facilities should be easily accessible for lone workers, and these rooms should be well-lit, properly ventilated, and reasonably clean. Either the facilities have a lock so that only one person at a time can use them, or separate facilities must be provided for men and women. In addition, for shops these facilities should be separate from the facilities used by the customers.
For indoor workplace settings, the temperature should be reasonably comfortable during working hours. The temperature should be lower if the work requires more physical exertions.
Temperatures outdoors can’t be controlled, but the employer can still set up proper safety and comfort provisions for workers. The employees working outdoors should be medically preselected, and they should be properly attired for either the cold or the heat. These workers should be properly trained and supervised. There should be sufficient rest periods, and workers should not be exposed to uncomfortable temperatures for too long.
If the weather is too cold, then there should be free hot drinks available. For warm conditions, cold drinks will be preferable.
The places where the lone workers will work should be reasonably safe and properly maintained. The floors should be in good condition and there shouldn’t be any hazards that can slip and fall injuries. Staircases should have upper and lower rails. Objects that may fall on workers should be secured, along with hazardous substances. Workplaces should be properly lit as well.
Workplaces can be dangerous enough even for groups, but they can be truly hazardous to employees working alone. If you’re the employer, you need to conduct a thorough risk assessment of the workplace environment of your workers. You have to make sure that you’ve done all you need to do to ensure their safety.