Working alone, or ‘lone working,’ presents its unique set of challenges and risks. In Australia, lone workers can be found in a variety of occupations, including security guards, doctors, nurses, and agricultural workers, as well as maintenance workers, retail workers, and researchers. While working alone is often unavoidable, it’s essential to recognise and reduce the associated risks to protect these workers.
Here’s our guide to help lone workers mitigate hazards whilst carrying out their daily duties:
1. Risk Assessment:
Before any work is undertaken, a thorough risk assessment should be carried out. This will help identify potential hazards that a lone worker may face. Consider the nature of the job, the environment, tools or equipment used, and the overall duration of the task.
2. Effective Communication:
It’s crucial for lone workers to have a reliable means of communication. This can include:
Regular Check-ins: Establish regular intervals for the worker to check in with a supervisor or coworker.
Panic Alarms: Wearable panic buttons can provide immediate alerts in emergencies.
Two-way Radios: In places with poor cellular service, radios can ensure a constant line of communication.
3. Safety Training:
Lone workers should be provided with proper training tailored to their job role. This could encompass first aid, equipment handling, and emergency protocols. Knowledge is a powerful tool in the prevention of and response to potential risks.
4. Appropriate Equipment:
It is vital that lone workers have been provided with access to all necessary equipment, which should be well-maintained and regularly checked. This could range from protective clothing to safety gear, like torches, alarms, or gas detectors.
5. Monitoring Systems:
Technological solutions like GPS tracking and surveillance cameras can be invaluable in keeping lone workers safe. Such systems allow for remote monitoring and can help pinpoint a worker’s location in case of emergencies.
The SafeTCard lone worker monitoring solution is the most comprehensive way to protect your staff. Created to give employers in Australia effective means to meet their duty of care, as well as to improve the safety and productivity of the individuals they employ.
6. Safe Environment:
Whenever possible, improve the physical safety of the environment. This may involve:
– Proper lighting in the work area.
– Securing hazardous zones.
– Regular maintenance to fix issues like slippery floors or unstable structures.
7. Personal Safety Protocols:
– Lone workers should be trained to:
– Avoid publicly disclosing they work alone.
– Always inform someone (like a supervisor or family member) about their location and expected time of return.
– Familiarise themselves with the exits and escape routes of their work environment.
8. Physical and Mental Health:
Working alone can sometimes be stressful or isolating. Organisations should provide access to resources that cater to the mental well-being of lone workers. Additionally, ensuring that the lone worker is physically fit for the job is essential, as they may not have immediate help available if they become ill or injured.
9. Feedback Loop:
Establish a system where lone workers can provide feedback about the challenges they face and the effectiveness of existing safety measures. This feedback can be invaluable in updating and refining safety protocols.
10. Emergency Response Plan:
An ERP should be in place, detailing the steps to be taken if a lone worker faces an emergency. This includes medical emergencies, encounters with hostile individuals, natural disasters, and equipment malfunctions.
Lone working, while having its set of challenges, doesn’t necessarily equate to compromised safety. By implementing effective safety measures, providing proper training, and using technology wisely, risks associated with lone working can be significantly reduced. It’s the joint responsibility of both the employer and the worker to ensure a safe and productive work environment.