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Lone Working Policy: Definition, Inclusions, Free Template

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10 min read
business man working with laptop | factorial

How do you ensure the safety of lone workers and adhere to legal standards?

This guide explains the process of creating a robust ‘lone working policy,’ addressing risk assessments and preventive measures to protect your staff. It also covers lone working legislation (UK) and the duties of employees and employers.

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Key Takeaways

  • Lone working policies are essential for managing the health and safety of individuals working independently. They outline both employer and employee responsibilities, including for contractors and self-employed persons.
  • Employers are legally obligated to assess and manage risks associated with lone working, and measures must be taken to mitigate these risks through training, support systems, and the implementation of emergency protocols.
  • Regular monitoring, review, and engagement with lone workers are crucial to maintaining the relevance and effectiveness of lone working policies. This includes regular risk assessments and adaptations following incidents or new procedures.

Understanding Lone Working Policies

 

Lone working policies are more than documents; they show a dedication to safeguarding those working independently and act as a key risk management tool. These policies aim to ensure the safety of staff who work without direct supervision, clearly specifying both employer and employee responsibilities regarding safety.

However, these policies aren’t exclusive to direct employees. They also apply to contractors and self-employed individuals under an employer’s instruction, ensuring a comprehensive health and safety management approach.

A lone working procedure should be clearly outlined, enabling employees to know exactly what steps to follow for safe and compliant lone working, even when not under close or direct supervision.

Defining Lone Workers

Lone workers are individuals who work independently, without close supervision. They are responsible for their own safety and wellbeing while on the job. Lone workers require specific support and resources to ensure their safety. They include contractors, self-employed people, and employees across various roles.

Delivery drivers, health workers, engineers, security staff, cleaners, warehouse operatives, petrol station attendants, and individuals working from home are all examples of job roles that involve lone working.

Lone Working Legislation UK

Employers have a legal duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to ensure their employees’ health, safety, and welfare, including those working alone. This requirement forms the legal basis for lone worker policies, emphasising the crucial role employers play in ensuring the safety of their staff.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 requires employers to conduct risk assessments for all work activities, including those involving lone working, to address potential health and safety issues.

The goal is to determine the level of risk and implement appropriate safety precautions. Some high-risk tasks, such as handling explosives and certain chemical fumigation activities, are even legally prohibited for lone workers to perform.

Developing an Effective Lone Working Policy

lone working policy

An effective lone working policy covers:

  • Specific risks associated with job roles
  • The policy’s purpose
  • Definitions
  • Organisational commitment
  • Responsibilities
  • Reporting procedures
  • Information on services and support available

To create an efficient policy for lone workers, it is important to:

  • Have frequent interaction with lone workers to gather their insights and safety concerns
  • Foster a culture of safety and cooperation
  • Conduct regular assessments using various data gathering methods such as examining accident records and conducting surveys

These steps are crucial in maintaining a dynamic and relevant policy.

Identifying Potential Risks

The initial step towards implementing a robust lone working policy is identifying potential risks. Through an initial risk assessment, potential hazards can be identified. A step-by-step analysis of activities allows for examining incidents and identifying potential threats to health or safety in lone working.

Certain risks require particular consideration, such as:

  • Workplace violence
  • Stress and mental health
  • Medical suitability
  • The characteristics of the workplace environment

High-risk activities legally require the presence of at least one other person, making it illegal for lone workers to perform these activities.

Implementing Control Measures

After potential risks have been pinpointed, you must initiate control measures to alleviate these risks. A lone worker policy must encompass safety measures for various job roles or departments and directives on how lone workers should handle potential risks.

Effective necessary safety precautions can include:

  • Communication tools, such as mobile phones and panic alarms
  • Periodic safety checks
  • First-aid training
  • Incident reporting protocols
  • Access to counselling
  • Personal protective equipment

Emergency plans must clearly outline the steps lone workers must take during a crisis, ensuring they are prepared to react appropriately to various scenarios.

Roles and Responsibilities in Lone Working Policies

lone working policy | factorial

lone working policy | factorial

A lone working policy does more than identify potential risks and implement control measures. It also delineates employers’ and employees’ duties and responsibilities in complying with these policies. The chief executive holds ultimate accountability for ensuring health and safety responsibilities are effectively managed across all organisational levels.

Regular engagement with lone workers, including obtaining their feedback through meetings or workshops, is imperative for continuously improving lone worker policies and ensuring workers feel safer.

Following a serious work incident, aftercare for lone workers is provided, encompassing professional support and a review of the incident to inform future risk assessments and enhance training programs.

Employer Responsibilities

As an employer, it is your duty to verify that your lone workers are medically capable of fulfilling their roles and don’t have conditions that may pose a risk when working alone. You must manage the risks to lone workers by providing training, supervision, and monitoring as outlined in health and safety regulations.

If your lone workers are operating in another employer’s workplace, you are responsible for inquiring about potential risks and the control measures in place for worker protection. Involving employees in the risk assessment process is also crucial as they can offer unique insights into potential hazards in their work environment.

Employee Responsibilities

As a lone worker, the onus of maintaining your safety also falls on you. You are required to:

  • Cooperate with your employer and comply with lone working procedures
  • Report potential health and safety risks
  • Be well-versed in and adhere to the established lone working policy
  • Regularly check-in
  • Utilise designated safety solutions

Lone workers, such as those in the NHS, are legally required to take care of their own safety, which includes using their training effectively and ensuring that personal safety devices are operational.

Training and Support for Lone Workers

training support lone working

Training and supportive structures are a key part of any lone working policy. Thorough training equips lone workers with the knowledge and skills for safe work practices and effective risk management. Lone worker safety training covers a variety of topics, including:

  • Manual handling
  • Fire safety
  • Use of heavy machinery
  • Specific risks like injury or violence when no colleagues are present

Skills in dynamic risk assessment, diffusing aggression, and conflict resolution are taught to lone workers to anticipate and mitigate potential hazardous situations that may arise during solitary work. Technological aids, such as SoloProtect ID devices, significantly improve lone workers’ confidence and security, empowering them to conduct their work with greater peace of mind.

Lone Worker Training Programmes

Training programmes designed for lone workers enable them to comprehend the risks and required safety measures in situations of minimal supervision. These training programmes aim to enable lone workers to identify and manage health and safety risks independently.

Emergency procedures must be taught to lone workers to react appropriately during incidents, including being aware of danger areas on different premises. Personal safety training includes instruction on recognising and defusing aggression, and preparing for and avoiding threatening situations.

Support Systems and Resources

Beyond training, protecting lone workers also requires sturdy support systems and resources to bolster their safety. Mobile phones and apps, like those incorporated in the Safe Hub system used by the NHS and SoloProtect ID devices, provide essential tools for ensuring the safety of lone workers, especially in high-risk roles.

SOS devices or apps are integral to lone worker solutions. They allow workers to call for help in emergencies and are typically overseen by an Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC), contributing to workers’ sense of safety.

In the UK, using Unique Reference Numbers (URNs) with support systems enables faster police intervention by circumventing the standard 999 call system in emergency scenarios.

Monitoring and Reviewing Lone Working Policies

To comply with the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations, monitoring and reviewing lone working policies is crucial. These regulations mandate risk management for lone workers through methods such as training, supervision, and monitoring.

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Lone working policies require regular updates to remain effective and relevant by considering changes in work activities, introducing new training courses, integrating novel lone worker solutions, and reflecting updated risk assessments.

Managers are responsible for thoroughly investigating incident reports related to lone working and taking any necessary action as part of the policy monitoring and review process.

Conducting Regular Policy Reviews

To maintain its relevance and efficiency, a lone working policy should undergo review at least once a year, following any incidents or when new health and safety procedures are instated. The ongoing effectiveness of lone working policies necessitates regular reviews as risks and circumstances change over time.

When significant changes in work activities occur, such as introducing new training or lone worker solutions, updating lone working policies is essential. Employees should be involved in regular discussions or workshops regarding health and safety, where they can provide feedback on potential improvements to the lone working policy.

Incident Reporting and Analysis

The critical facets of lone working policies include incident reporting and analysis, which assist in recognising areas of improvement and averting future incidents. An incident concerning lone working is an unplanned or uncontrolled event that could result in injury, ill health, or damage.

Lone working policies must clearly lay out the procedures for reporting incidents, ensuring these processes are well understood and consistently followed. Following the reporting of a hazard, a lone working policy should guide the workflow for:

  • Identifying the hazard
  • Assessing the risk
  • Implementing corrective and preventive measures
  • Reviewing the effectiveness of the measures

These procedures need to be reviewed regularly for effectiveness.

Lone Working Policy Template

See below for a free lone worker policy template.

[Your Company Name]

Lone Working Policy

Policy Statement:

[Your Company Name] is committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of all employees, including those who may be required to work alone. This Lone Working Policy is designed to establish guidelines and procedures to minimise risks associated with lone working while promoting a safe and secure work environment.

Scope:

This policy applies to all employees who may be required to work alone, either on a regular or occasional basis, regardless of their job role or level within the organisation.

Objectives:

  1. To identify and assess potential risks associated with lone working.
  2. To implement control measures to minimise risks and ensure the safety of lone workers.
  3. To provide lone workers with appropriate training and resources.
  4. To establish communication protocols for lone workers to stay connected with the organisation.
  5. To ensure compliance with relevant health and safety legislation.

Responsibilities:

Management:

  • The [Management Position/Department] is responsible for assessing and managing the risks associated with lone working.
  • They will ensure that lone workers are provided with appropriate training and resources.
  • They will review and update risk assessments regularly.

Employees:

  • Employees are responsible for familiarising themselves with and complying with this policy.
  • They must report any concerns, incidents, or hazards related to lone working to their supervisor or [Contact Person].

Risk Assessment:

  • A risk assessment will be conducted for all job roles that involve lone working.
  • This assessment will consider factors such as the nature of the work, the location, and the time of day.
  • Control measures will be implemented to minimise identified risks.

Control Measures:

  1. Implementing a check-in system for lone workers.
  2. Providing personal safety devices or alarms where necessary.
  3. Ensuring proper lighting and security measures at locations where lone work occurs.
  4. Providing training on personal safety and emergency procedures.

Training:

  • All lone workers will receive training on the risks associated with lone working and the control measures in place.
  • Training will cover emergency procedures, communication protocols, and the use of any safety devices provided.

Communication Protocols:

  • Lone workers must establish regular check-ins with their supervisor or designated contact person.
  • Emergency contact information must be readily available and regularly updated.

Review and Monitoring:

  • This policy will be reviewed annually or more frequently if there are changes in lone working practices or incidents occur.
  • Feedback from lone workers will be considered during reviews to continuously improve safety measures.

Incident Reporting:

  • Lone workers must report any incidents, near misses, or concerns related to lone working promptly to their supervisor or [Contact Person].

Review and Approval:

This Lone Working Policy has been reviewed and approved by [Management Position/Department]. Any updates or amendments will be communicated to all relevant employees.

Effective Date: [Date]

Next Review Date: [Date]

Review by: [Management Position/Department]

Distribution:

  • All employees
  • [Other relevant departments or positions]

[Your Company Name] is committed to the well-being of its employees and will continuously strive to provide a safe working environment, even for those who may need to work alone.

[Signature]

[Name] [Position] [Date]

Case Studies: Implementing Lone Working Policies in Various Industries

The successful deployment of lone working policies across diverse sectors showcases universal acknowledgement of the importance of safety for lone workers. The healthcare industry, for instance, faced challenges such as ensuring proper communication channels and response strategies for lone workers in emergencies. Solutions in the healthcare sector included the use of technology for real-time location tracking and emergency alert systems tailored to the needs of healthcare personnel working alone.

Similarly, the retail industry had to develop a lone working policy that improved worker safety and resulted in a decrease in safety incidents, despite workers often operating outside of normal working hours, including usual business hours.

Healthcare Industry Example

In the healthcare industry, where lone workers often operate in potentially high-risk situations such as home visits, a comprehensive lone working policy is essential. These policies need to address potential risks and ensure that lone workers have the necessary resources and training to manage these risks effectively.

Implementing real-time location tracking and emergency alert systems tailored to healthcare personnel working alone has proven effective in this industry. These measures protect healthcare workers and ensure that they can provide the best care possible to their patients, knowing that their safety is taken care of.

Retail Industry Example

In the retail industry, lone workers often work late hours when fewer colleagues are present. This situation presents unique challenges, such as a higher risk of violence or theft, especially in stores with high-value items or late operating hours.

A successful retail chain realised the need to implement a lone working policy after an incident where a night-shift worker was injured, and no immediate help was available. In response to these challenges, the retail chain implemented enhanced training programmes for employees to recognise potential threats and respond to emergencies effectively.

Introducing a mandatory check-in system for employees working alone contributed to quicker response times in case of incidents. As a result, the retail chain experienced a noticeable decrease in workplace incidents and increased staff confidence after the lone working policy implementation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a lone employee policy?

The lone employee policy is an official written document that outlines the risks and responsibilities for both the employer and the employee in ensuring the safety of employees working alone. This policy is crucial for providing guidelines and support for lone workers.

Is there a law about working alone?

Yes, there is no general legal prohibition on working alone. The Health and Safety Executive states that it is often safe to work alone, but the law requires one to address any health and safety risks.

What is an example of lone working?

Examples of lone working include people working alone in a petrol station, kiosk, or shop, as well as those working alone in factories, warehouses, quarries, and fairgrounds. Delivery drivers, health workers, and engineers are also considered lone workers.

How can risks be identified in a lone working situation?

Risks in a lone working situation can be identified through an initial risk assessment, step-by-step analysis of activities, regular recording and reviewing of risk assessment findings, and reviews of past accident and ill-health records. Conducting these processes can help in ensuring a safe work environment.

What are some examples of control measures in a lone working policy?

Control measures in a lone working policy can include communication tools, periodic safety checks, first-aid training, incident reporting protocols, and access to counselling and personal protective equipment to ensure the safety and well-being of lone workers.

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Emma is a Content Writer with 5 years of Marketing experience. She specialises in HR strategy and modern workplace trends. When she's not writing, she's running by the beach or cooking Italian food.

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