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Business Risks of Lone Working

Can you afford not to protect your lone workers?

Employers have a legal and moral obligation to keep their workers safe. Aside from protecting lone workers simply being 'the right thing to do', employers are reducing the many costs and potential risks to their employees and the organization, which arise from lone working issues.

In March 31, 2004, Bill C-45 amended the Canadian Criminal Code and provided new rules for attributing criminal liability to organizations, including corporations, their representatives, and those who direct the work of others. Since Bill C-45 came into effect, 8 employers have been charged under the act, more than $1M in fines have been levied, and 2 supervisors have been sentenced to prison (one for 2 years and another for 4 years).

Legal duty of care compliance is further regulated through Occupational Health & Safety legislation (OH&S). 10% of employees fall under federal OH&S jurisdiction and the other 90% fall under provincial jurisdictions. Eight provinces (AB, SK, MB, BC, NB, QC, NL, PEI) have OH&S legislation that specifically regulates situations where employees are deemed to be working alone.

Employers must take all reasonable measures to ensure the safety of employees, including:

  1. Conduct workplace hazard assessments.
  2. Take steps to eliminate or minimize the hazard.
  3. Provide an effective form of communication given the specific situation and risks.

The more frequently a company places workers in lone working situations, the more often they are exposed to risks to their health, safety and well-being and in turn, the more likely it is that a situation will arise which has consequences to the worker, the employer and the supervisors.

WORKER

  • Lost work time and lost wages
  • Medical costs
  • Potential long-term health or disability
  • Potential death
  • Burden on family

EMPLOYER

  • Compensation for employee injury
  • Increased insurance premiums
  • Lawsuits - legal damages awarded to an injured worker and costs of defending against litigation.
  • Fines due to Bill C-45 and OH&S legislation
  • Damage to brand
  • Impacts to employee satisfaction and retention due to safety concerns.
  • Impacts to productivity due to staff absence.
  • Time spent investigating and reporting incidents.

SUPERVISOR

  • Potential jail time -- For individuals in Canada, the maximum penalty for criminal negligence causing death is life imprisonment, and the maximum penalty for criminal negligence causing bodily harm is ten years’ imprisonment.
  • Financial penalties can be levied per Bill C-45 and per OH&S legislation.
  • Legal damages may be awarded to injured workers as a result of supervisor negligence and they may have to bear their own costs of defending against litigation.
  • Potential loss of employment or demotion and damage to personal reputation.

Implementing the SoloProtect solution is a proactive means of curtailing the risk associated with lone working. It allows a company to provide auditable evidence that a lone worker policy is being adhered to and encourages dynamic risk assessment among your employees via use of the status checking and yellow alerting.