Lone working is not illegal, but it is not always appropriate
There are no specific laws against lone working. Employers have a Duty of Care to their employees. This means they should not be putting workers in a situation that could compromise their safety. The employer must however, carry out a risk assessment beforehand, and provide adequate health and safety policy to protect lone workers. Even after the risk assessment has been completed, there are certain industries where lone working may not be appropriate.
In certain situations, employers can not provide adequate safety measures to fully protect workers. Some job roles require extra controls to fully ensure that their workers are protected. Below is a list of job roles where lone working would not be advised.
Example of job roles not suitable for lone workers:
- Working in confined spaces
- Handling and transporting dangerous goods
- Working in social care, dealing with unpredictable clients
- Operating near or around live electricity conductors
- Working with potentially dangerous individuals such as prisoners or mental health patients
If an incident was to occur in any of these job roles, getting assistance may not be easy. Lone workers would be put at risk in these roles, as getting emergency assistance to them could be difficult based on the nature of the work. This is another reason working alone would not be appropriate in some roles.
Lone working is also not OK if:
- Employees have not received adequate training on how to do the job safely.
- Employers are unable to contact their employees to monitor their safety.
- The employee has a medical condition that may affect their ability to work alone safely. Always seek medical advice if this is the case.
- There has been a ‘near-miss’ incident before, which has demonstrated that lone working may not be appropriate.
In any industry, it is down to the employer to uncover and access the potential dangers to workers. Once the risk assessment has been completed and the proper safety procedures have been put in place, employers must use their reasonable judgement to decide whether the line of work is appropriate for lone working. If the job at hand is deemed too much of a risk for a single worker, then lone working would not be OK.