In this article, we take a closer look at what it means to be an isolated worker, the potential risks involved, and the steps employers and workers themselves can take to reduce these risks.
What is an Isolated Worker?
An isolated worker refers to someone who performs their job without close or direct supervision and often without frequent interaction with other workers. This could be due to the nature of the job or the location where the job is performed. Examples include:
- Night security guards
- Forestry workers
- Maintenance workers in large facilities
- Remote field scientists
- Workers in solo shifts
- Risks Faced by Isolated Workers
- Physical Risks: Without immediate access to assistance, isolated workers face increased vulnerability in case of accidents, health issues, or any emergencies
Mental Health Challenges: Loneliness and lack of social interaction can lead to feelings of isolation, depression, and anxiety.
Security Concerns: Isolated workers, particularly those in public-facing roles, can be at a higher risk of confrontations or attacks.
Lack of Immediate Support: If a technical or equipment problem arises, isolated workers might not have someone on hand to help resolve it.
Overwork and Burnout: Without the natural breaks that come from interacting with colleagues, isolated workers may neglect breaks, leading to burnout.
Ways to Reduce These Risks
Regular Check-ins: Scheduled check-ins, either via call or a digital platform, can ensure that the worker is safe and provide an opportunity for any concerns to be raised.
Emergency Protocols: Equip workers with alarms or distress buttons and ensure they are trained on emergency procedures.
Proper Training: Ensure isolated workers are well-trained, not just in their core tasks, but also in first aid, equipment handling, and emergency response.
Mental Health Support: Offer counseling or support groups where workers can discuss their feelings and challenges.
Create Virtual Communities: Use technology to allow isolated workers to interact with each other, share experiences, and provide support.
What Employers Can Do?
Risk Assessment: Regularly assess the risks associated with isolated work and the environment in which it’s conducted.
Equip Workers with Necessary Tools: This includes communication devices, protective gear, and any specialized equipment that ensures safety.
Encourage Regular Breaks: Set strict guidelines about break times to prevent overwork.
Offer Training: In addition to job-specific training, offer training on mental health awareness, self-defense, and emergency handling.
Implement a Buddy System: Pair isolated workers with a “buddy” they can check in with regularly, even if this person works in a different location.
Feedback Channels: Provide an avenue for isolated workers to give feedback on their conditions, concerns, and any suggestions for improvement.
Adopt Technology Solutions: Invest in monitoring and communication systems that allow for real-time tracking and two-way communication.
While isolated work poses unique challenges and risks, a combination of technological, operational, and community-driven solutions can ensure that isolated workers remain safe, supported, and engaged.
Employers play a pivotal role in creating these safe environments, but workers, too, can adopt proactive measures to protect themselves. With a collaborative approach, the safety and well-being of every worker, isolated or not, can be ensured.
At SafeTCard, we help to reduce the risks when working alone thanks to our duress alarm systems. They are the first line of assistance should an isolated worker require it – either through their safety being compromised, or if they simply require monitoring for a period of time because of a perceived risk.
Contact us today to learn more.