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COMPLIANCE & RISK ASSESSMENT APP-ROPRIATE SOLUTIONS


Naz Dossa, CEO at Peoplesafe looks at the measures involved in protecting lone workers in a socially distanced world.


Social distancing measures, a reduced workforce on- site and the need to limit numbers working indoors all mean that, since the pandemic began, there has been a significant increase in the number of workers operating either alone or out of earshot from colleagues - classing them as ‘lone workers’ according to the Health & Safety Executive (HSE).


From carers and council workers expected to conduct solo home visits and retail workers handling potentially aggressive members of the public, to workers operating machinery and navigating hazards on construction sites or warehouse floors without colleagues close by to supervise or support, many sectors are now faced with a growing number of lone workers.


Working alone inherently places employees at greater risk, not least because there may be nobody around to help in the event of an accident. Lone working carries its own unique challenges and requires different support procedures, from the need to provide help in case of emergency to the HSE’s expectations that employers put in place a means of communication to keep in touch with remote workers and respond to any incident.


The need to meet an employer’s duty of care obligations and keep lone workers safe means that those responsible for health and safety must review risk assessments, refresh procedures and put in place adequate measures swiftly to account for the ‘new normal’ to which we are all adapting.


It may be more appropriate to pass on the responsibility of conducting risk assessments to line managers, particularly in large organisations or those with multiple sites or premises. Those managers may already be doing this to assess wider COVID-19 risks or when auditing PPE requirements, but providing them with clear guidance around what constitutes lone working is vital.


OPERATING HEAVY MACHINERY OR


COMPLETING SOLO VISITS IN REMOTE LOCATIONS WILL DOUBTLESS


“ “THOSE


REQUIRE MORE SUPPORT


THAN THOSE CONDUCTING DESK-BASED


DUTIES OUT OF EARSHOT FROM COLLEAGUES.”


ASSESS THE RISK Some firms may find the number of lone workers has


risen in response to the pandemic; other organisations will be managing lone worker protection for the first time as working practices adapt. The first step in response to this surge should be identifying the roles and locations where lone working is more prevalent and getting a grasp of the numbers affected.


30


The HSE classes anyone who ‘works by themselves or without close or direct supervision’ for some or all of their working hours as a lone worker. However, not all employees that fall into this category will be exposed to the same level of risk: in order to provide adequate protection for lone workers, understanding risks undertaken during solitary tasks is essential.


Grouping workers into different categories will provide those responsible for health and safety with the foundations to put in place protection in the most cost-effective way. For example, those operating heavy machinery or completing solo visits in remote locations will doubtless require more support than those conducting desk-based duties out of earshot from colleagues.


CONSISTENT LEVELS OF


PROTECTION Once impacted employees have been identified and risk levels categorised, health and safety managers can take a centralised approach to protection and select the right technology solutions to help keep lone workers safe. We find many organisations have disparate levels of technology in place across different teams or


sites: it could be that some lower risk roles have been provided with high-spec personal safety devices, or that one employee is better protected than another doing a similar role because they work in different teams that chose different features when procuring products independently. A centralised approach will enable the right level of protection to mitigate risks encountered in each role.


www.tomorrowshs.com


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