Lone working encompasses a broad range of industries and occupations, resulting in an estimated 6.8 million workers in the UK falling into this category. There are a variety of risks associated with lone work, which are important for both employees and employers to be aware of and prepared for.
In this post, Safety Services Direct looks at the definition of lone working, which laws affect employers, and the policies you might require. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about lone working in the UK.
What is Lone Working?
Lone working refers to any employee or self-employed individual who “work by themselves without close or direct supervision”, according to the HSE. This includes anyone who works remotely or feels vulnerable in their workspace. A lone worker performs their tasks in isolation and therefore does not have the security of colleagues or assistance.
As a lone worker is more vulnerable and exposed to greater risk because of the nature of lone working, a risk assessment is required, and lone worker training is highly recommended.
Who are Lone Workers?
There are many workers who fall into this category, including:
- People who work from home
- Those who work outside normal office hours
- Everyone who travels for work
- People who work in other people’s homes (such as a social worker)
Which Laws Directly Affect Lone Working?
There are two laws that directly relate to lone working. These are The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
Here is how these laws relate to lone workers:
- The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
This law sets out the general duties of employers and employees to their own and each other’s safety, ‘so far as is reasonably practicable’. This means that employers need to assess and mitigate foreseeable risks. But are not responsible for those that are technically impossible to foresee or for which the measures needed to reduce that risk are grossly disproportionate to the risk itself. The legal requirement for employers is to assess what the risks are and take reasonable safety measures to prevent them.
- The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
This law requires employers to carry out appropriate risk assessments and put measures in place to reduce the hazards identified. This includes providing adequate training and information, appointing competent people and introducing proper safety procedures. With regards to lone workers specifically, this law also requires employers to check that lone working staff do not have medical conditions that make them unsuitable for working alone.
Do You Need a Lone Working Policy?
In the UK, there are no requirements for a specific lone-worker policy. However, the above-mentioned legislation does require employers to assess risks in the workplace and take preventative measures.
While a lone worker policy is not technically required, it is recommended. A robust lone-working policy can be used as guidance for any employee who works alone. The policy can also be referred to if there is ever a legal dispute.
Does Your Organisation Require Assistance With Policies?
Creating comprehensive policies can be difficult, and every business stands a lot to lose if they are not. If you require assistance in drawing up a lone-worker policy or any health and safety policy, contact us today. We offer bespoke policy and procedure documents so that no matter your industry, we can help keep your employees and business premises safe.
Tip: If you are still concerned about the safety of your lone workers, read this blog on how to keep lone workers safe.