Feel like your lone workers are, well, left alone? Never fear: we’re here with your ultimate guide to the 8 lone working policy and procedures you have to know, to keep your lone workers protected, safe and (most importantly) happy!
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Anyone with experience as a lone worker understands that it’s not always the safest way to make a living.
Shockingly, there is no official lone working policy in UK law outside the general guidelines enforced by the UK Health and Safety Executive. Those guidelines leave it up to you, the employer, to come up with a lone working policy for UK workers who spend their work-life isolated from co-workers.
Hopefully, you’re doing your due diligence when it comes to the work conditions of lone workers. At the same time, it’s up to lone workers to hold their employers accountable so that they feel safe when left alone on the job.
Of course, it’s best for both sides if there are clear lone working policies and procedures in place. If your company doesn’t have a specific list of policies for lone workers, here is a way to go about creating a lone working policy for UK companies to follow.
Defining a Lone Worker
Before you can set a lone working policy, you need to set a firm definition of what a lone worker actually is.
While it may sound obvious, a lone worker is a broad term. A lone worker doesn’t have to apply only to those who work in isolation all the time or for long stretches of time. A lone worker could be someone who –
- stays late after everyone else has left the office or job site
- someone who travels alone in order to do their job
- someone who works with a partner but is temporarily separated from that partner
- someone who works with a partner and is within sight but out of touch with that partner.
A lone worker could even be someone who works outside with the public but doesn’t have another co-worker with them in case they encounter a dangerous situation.
To put it simply, a lone worker is someone who can’t be seen or heard by a colleague.
This could include:
- Contracted cleaning staff
- Estate agents
- Security guards
- Community nurses
- Hotel receptionists
- Sales people
- Petrol station operatives
- Parking enforcement
Of course, the traditional and obvious definition of a lone worker still applies, but a lone working policy for UK companies should include all possible definitions for what constitutes a lone worker.
Have a Clear Purpose
There is almost no point in having a lone working policy for UK companies unless there is a clear purpose and goals for having a policy in place. Ideally, companies would have a policy in place to show their commitment to keeping workers safe from harm by providing the necessary resources to protect lone workers. This also relates to creating a culture within the company in which the safety of employees is taken seriously.
At the same time, the ultimate goal of a lone working policy at UK companies should be to limit the risks that lone workers experience on the job. This is a broad goal but can come with secondary goals that are more specifically related to the training that lone workers receive and the resources available to them. These broken down goals could include –
- Identifying the potential risks (either overall or according to a flexible work schedule basis). See below for a deeper dive into this.
- Developing a contingency plan for every potential scenario
- Monitoring situations as they evolve
- Setting up a ‘worst-case scenario’ disaster plan.
Identify and Evaluate Risks
One of the more concrete steps in a lone worker policy is identifying and evaluating the specific risks.
- First, you should identify what employees fit the definition of a lone worker, even if it’s only part of the time.
- The next step is to identify the hazards that those workers face when working alone. Be as specific as possible about the ways that workers are at risk so that those risks can be evaluated based on their likelihood and the seriousness of the potential consequences.
Obviously, there will be risks in the tasks lone workers perform for their job. But there can also be environmental risks or risks created by other people that lone workers might encounter while on the job. No matter how small or seemingly harmless they might be, all potential hazards to lone workers should be identified and evaluated to make sure lone workers aren’t taking on too much risk compared to the importance of the work they’re doing. It’s also a good idea for all lone workers to be aware of general workplace safety tips, no matter where their workplace might be!
Train Based on Standard Operating Procedures
Once every potential hazard has been identified and assessed, the next step in a lone working policy in the UK is to create a set of standard operating procedures for how lone workers should respond to hazards.
Those workers should then be trained specifically to mitigate all potential risks. Workers need to be trained to develop the skills that they’ll need while performing their job tasks alone in accordance with the standard operating procedures. In other words, the employee training needs to reflect the procedures that can help mitigate the risk of working alone.
Develop an Emergency Plan
Even with good protocols in place, there will always be unexpected occurrences and possible emergencies. Any lone working policy for UK businesses should include an emergency plan. Obviously, it’s impossible to prepare for every possible situation. But if you’ve done your due diligence with regard to identifying risks, you should be able to identify some of the potential emergencies that could arise. Make sure that workers understand what to do in an emergency and make sure that they always have a way to contact someone at all times.
That leads directly to another crucial part of a lone working policy in the UK; Communication. There should be written protocols for how frequently managers or supervisors should maintain contact with any lone worker. Even if there isn’t an emergency, lone workers need to know who they can contact and how they will contact that person when working alone.
Of course, there will be instances when a person will be out of touch. But there should also be a time limit set on how long a person should work without having the ability to communicate with a supervisor. The bottom line is that there should be a clear plan for two-way communication between lone workers and a supervisor at the company.
If communication is an issue, here are some concrete tips to improve communication in every type of organisation, whether employees are remote, deskless or everything in between. Having a way to quickly and securely send messages to each lone worker, and to have them be able to contact whoever they need to, is absolutely essential…yet sadly, not always the case.
Another important rule for a lone working policy at UK companies is to make sure everything is documented. Everything from the definition of a lone worker to the goals of a lone worker policy to the hazards they face to the protocols that lone workers follow on the job should be written down and stored with the rest of the company’s important documents and policies.
Workers must have access to this information at all times to ensure clarity regarding the standard operating procedures and their responsibilities for keeping themselves safe on the job. At the same time, you should make reports whenever there is a slight mishap, accident, or near-miss involving a lone worker. If something went wrong or was handled in a way that didn’t comply with standard operating procedures, it might require the worker to undergo more training or even a refresher course to ensure that they are always safe while working alone.
Evaluate and Update Policy
Another reason why documenting everything is important is because it’s the best way to evaluate and make potential updates to your lone worker policy. The safety rules and processes for lone workers should always be evaluated. No company can be expected to get everything perfect on the first try, so there will inevitably be updates to the standard operating procedures for lone workers. Think of every mishap or close call as a way to learn and improve. This is why lone worker conditions and procedures should be constantly evaluated and updated to continue to mitigate risks and make lone workers as safe as possible.
The Bottom Line: Keep Your Lone Workers Connected (and Safe) At All Times
The easiest way to ensure your lone workers are safe and secure at all times, is by providing them with effective lone working policies to support their ever-evolving working environment.
Of course, every good policy and procedure hangs on the level of communication, documentation and training that accompanies it. For that, an all-in-one employee app can be hugely beneficial, taking on all of the heavy lifting.
And the exact app you need is right under your nose: Connecteam is the answer to keeping your lone working policy and procedures all in one centralized place. Not only will you be able to keep all your documentation available for your employees to read at the click of a button, but also track their clock ins and outs, their locations while on-shift, and even chat privately with them, or as a group.
See how Connecteam can keep your lone workers happy, safe and supported!
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