All employers who take on staff who are likely to be working alone have a duty of care and legal obligations to ensure these people are kept safe.
The Lone Worker regulations can be read here http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg73.pdf
Who is effected?
Many of the roles traditionally associated with lone worker regulations are those in mobile roles away from their base. These include taxi drivers, security guards, postal staff, carers and social workers, sales teams, estate agents and those working in maintenance and repair, plant installation and cleaning work.
However, many lone workers also operate in fixed establishments. According to the HSE guidance these workers include those operating in small workshops, petrol stations, kiosks and shops. Those working from home (other than those in low risk office type roles) are also included. Those alone for long periods in factories, warehouses, leisure centres or fairgrounds also fall under the legislation. Finally employees or contractors who operate outside regular hours to maintain, clean, guard or secure premises are also included.
What does this mean for you as an employer?
The scope of work which falls under the regulations is quite wide as you can see from above. This means that whether you operate as a manufacturer, distributor, wholesaler or retailer you may well have a duty of care.
You are obliged to control risks to lone workers and take steps to avoid or reduce risks where they are identified.
As well as involving workers in considering risks, giving appropriate instruction, training and supervision and reviewing risk assessments regularly it is also important for employers to put control measures in place where possible.
Such measures include:
Is there a safe way in and out of the building – what provisions have you made with respect to fire proof shutters, fire doors etc.
Is there a risk or violence or aggression? Conflict can arise in many work situations as can risk of crime. What provisions have been made to ensure premises are secure, well lit and that risk of break ins and related-crime are minimised. What steps have been taken to minimise the risk of an employee coming into contact with criminals or thieves. What cctv or deterrents are in place? Does your business hold particularly valuable stock which could attract crime and therefore potential risks and conflict?
Are employees’ young, pregnant, disabled or trainees – any of whom might be deemed to be particularly vulnerable when working alone if all other risks are not appropriately minimised?
Lone workers should be checked on by supervisors who should visit periodically. Pre-agreed intervals of regular contact are to be set up with a manually operated or automatic warning device triggered if specific signals are not received periodically from the lone worker. A robust system should also be in place to make sure that a person has returned to their base or home at the end of their work period.