What Is a Lone Worker? We Explain
Lone Worker Definition
According to The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the definition of a Lone Worker is “those who work by themselves without close or direct supervision.”
It lists some examples as; people working alone in premises, people who work from home, people working separately from others, people working outside normal hours.
If you work alone, at any time… you’re a lone worker
With more and more flexible working arrangements and cutbacks in resources, the number of people working alone is on the increase. Therefore, it’s estimated there are over six million lone workers in the UK.
There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with allowing staff to work alone. In fact, many organisations have little or no choice and therefore it’s not illegal to do so. However, the law requires employers to consider carefully, and then deal with, any health and safety risks for people working alone.
Why Safeguard Your Lone Workers?
Lone working employees may face greater risks than those with colleagues on hand to assist. If there is an accident or sudden illness, there may be nobody to help them. Furthermore, they also run an increased risk of violence or abuse.
Employers are responsible for the health, safety and welfare of all their workers. They also have responsibility for the health and safety of contractors or self-employed people doing work for them. It even covers staff who work from home.
The Legal Argument
If an organisation is found in breach of their responsibilities, they could be liable for prosecution under one or more of the following Acts of legislation.
The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974
The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007
The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992
The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR 2013)
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
Lone Worker Facts
The British Crime Survey reported that as many as 150 lone workers are physically or verbally attacked every day.
Research by EE found that whilst 46% of people in full time employment identify themselves as Lone Workers, the term actually applies to 71%. This includes those who work alone in situations such as working late in the office (30%) or travelling to meetings on public transport (25%).
Statistics released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) showed that 144 workers suffered a fatal injury whist at work in 2017/18.
Organisations can be fined up to £20 million, with the threat of custodial sentences for Corporate Manslaughter. Failure to protect your workers could lead to serious prosecution.
Since the introduction of new sentencing guidelines in 2016, the value of fines collected increased by 80%, jumping from £38.8 million in 2015/16 to £69.9 million in 2016/17, with the figure continually rising.
Every organisation should have a robust lone worker policy in place. If you would like to know more, read our guide here.