Take care of lone workers!
Sheila Pantry OBE
Working alone is not in itself against the law and it will often be safe to do so. However, the law requires employers to consider carefully, and then deal with, any health and safety risks for people working alone. Employers are responsible for the health, safety and welfare at work of all their workers. They also have responsibility for the health and safety of any contractors or self-employed people doing work for them. These responsibilities cannot be transferred to any other person, including those people who work alone.
Workers have responsibilities to take reasonable care of themselves and other people affected by their work activities and to co-operate with their employers in meeting their legal obligations. These responsibilities cannot be transferred to any other person, including those people who work alone. Lone workers are those who work by themselves without close or direct supervision, for example:
In fixed establishments
A person working alone in a small workshop, petrol station, kiosk or shop. People who work from home other than in low-risk, office-type work (separate guidance covers homeworkers doing low-risk work – see the end of the leaflet for details). People working alone for long periods, e.g. in factories, warehouses, leisure centres or fairgrounds. People working on their own outside normal hours, e.g. cleaners and security, maintenance or repair staff.
As mobile workers working away from their fixed base
Workers involved in construction, maintenance and repair, plant installation and cleaning work, Agricultural and forestry workers, Service workers, including postal staff, social and medical workers, engineers, estate agents, and sales or service representatives visiting domestic and commercial premises.
How must employers control the risks?
Employers have a duty to assess risks to lone workers and take steps to avoid or control risks where necessary. This must include involving workers when considering potential risks and measures to control them; taking steps to ensure risks are removed where possible, or putting in place control measures, e.g. carefully selecting work equipment to ensure the worker is able to perform the required tasks in safety; instruction, training and supervision; reviewing risk assessments periodically or when there has been a significant change in working practice.
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This month’s OSHWORLD FOCUS looks at Health and Safety: Is Britain going backwards? Allan St. John Holt Memorial Lecture 2015 by Geoffrey Podger CB.
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It is always good to review health, safety, chemical, fire and environment procedures on a regular basis. It is also important that the practices and systems in the workplace are constantly reviewed and if necessary, improved. This review may also indicate training requirements and updates and re-thinking how systems and services can be improved. This is where the free-of-charge OSHWORLD can help you.
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Are you aiming to have a zero accident, incident-free and healthy year in 2015 in your workplace? Some would argue that this is not possible! But keep on trying and develop your plans for 2016!