Safety in Numbers?
Whilst adding extra bodies may ease some of the risks of lone working it’s not likely to completely resolve the issue.
As an employer you have a duty of care to all of your staff, including those that work alone; this means that it’s imperative you take all necessary steps to ensure staff health, safety and wellbeing. It’s a legal requirement to meet relevant health & safety and employment laws but you also have a moral and ethical duty to ensure all staff members are sufficiently protected from physical or psychological harm.
Apart from the obvious moral and ethical consequences of the human cost of tragedy, there are a number of financial and legal implications should the worst occur, and by ‘worst’ we mean an incident that results in an employee being seriously injured or killed during work. Any organisation, or in fact individual, found to have a case to answer with regards to working practices that contribute to such an outcome, could incur significant financial reparations and even a custodial sentence.
As well as this, not fully protecting your workforce presents a serious business risk to an organisation - it can easily impact a company’s cash position, its share price, perceived brand equity value, and its ability to attract the best staff and customers.
The risk of a serious incident occurring increases greatly when you employ lone workers, due to them not having the same avenue of support. In spite of this, lone worker safety isn’t always at the forefront of people’s minds and for some reason is often overlooked. You wouldn’t believe the amount of health and safety executives we’ve spoken to that don’t have any form of lone worker protection currently in place. Whether this is due to a lack of education, carelessness, or budget considerations is a whole other conversation.
There are many different ways organisations can develop staff safety but corporate culture, and how duty of care is approached are fundamental. Providing workers with the necessary tools and skills to deal with difficult situations, is key to staff safety.
Whilst adding extra bodies may ease some of the risks of lone working it’s not likely to completely resolve the issue. For example, for those working in retail, an extra member of staff is highly unlikely to deter would-be robbers, or indeed placate angry and aggravated customers. If you found yourself in the middle of an aggressive situation would you feel any safer with another colleague present? Would you feel any more equipped than if you were alone? Adding extra staff can also be extremely expensive, particularly for smaller retail stores. Therefore, it’s important to consider what else can be done to ensure your workforce is protected.
Employing a lone worker solution is one way of alleviating risk for your lone workers, a dedicated device will not only ensure your workforce is better protected it will also provide your employees with peace of mind while carrying out their daily duties. Many job roles in many sectors have workers that they may not consider to be lone workers, however, there could be pockets of time during the day when they may be alone. An in-store member of staff may be alone while lunch breaks are being covered, a construction worker may need to relocate to another site, or a security guard doing their rounds, for example. Whilst lone working may not always be obvious it’s imperative that if it does occur your staff are equipped should anything happen.
Obviously, there’s no guaranteed way to eliminate lone worker risk completely, but by having a detailed lone worker policy, providing thorough training, consistent risk assessments, along with implementing a dedicated lone worker device, you can reduce the chances of an incident and ensure you’re doing all you can to look after your employees and meet your legal duty of care.
For more information on lone worker protection click here.