October 20201: This chapter has been updated to add a link to Protecting Lone Workers: Health and Safety Guidance published by the Health and Safety Executive, as above.
Lone workers are ‘those who work by themselves without close or direct supervision’ (Health and Safety Executive). Many hazards lone workers face are similar to those of other workers, but the risks however, may be greater because the worker is on their own.
There is no specific law dealing with lone working, however all health and safety legislation applies equally to lone workers. Employers have a duty to assess the risks to their employees who are lone working and take steps to avoid or control risks where necessary. This must include:
- involving workers when considering potential risks and how to control them;
- acting to ensure risks are removed where possible, or control measures put in place;
- training and supervision; and
- reviewing risk assessments.
It may also include:
- understanding some tasks may be too difficult or dangerous to be carried out by an unaccompanied worker;
- when a risk assessment shows it is not possible for the work to be conducted safely by a lone worker, addressing that risk by making arrangements to provide help or support.
Conducting risk assessments should help the employer decide on the right level of supervision.
Common practices used by organisations to manage the personal safety of their lone workers include:
- conducting risk assessments
- implementing a lone worker policy and procedure
- implementation of a buddy system
- lone worker training
- conflict management training
- provision and use of monitoring systems and other equipment (alarms, trackers, mobile phones).