HSE updates guidance on lone worker safety

Great Britain's Independent regulator for health and safety issues advice to employers, on managing lone worker risk.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), today announced an update to its guidance for employers and employees regarding the protection of lone workers, issuing a new version of "Protecting Lone Workers: How to manage the risks of working alone".

Barbara Hockey, HSE Head of Vulnerable Workers Team, stated back in October 2019 that lone worker guidance notes - in place since 2012 - would be updated into 2020. The process has involved the HSE working with a number of industry stakeholders including trade organisations, unions, and both small and large employers.

As stated by the HSE, "Lone workers face the same hazards at work as anyone else, but there is a greater risk of these hazards causing harm as they may not have anyone to help or support them if things go wrong."

The latest guidance contains a new section that specifically addresses how to protect personnel from the risk of work-related violence, as well as addressing how a lone worker manager should stay in contact with their team(s), and a new focus on how lone working can be linked to a workers mental health and wellbeing.

The publication also highlights the way working has changed in the last five to ten years - specifically the rise of the 'gig economy', and how that shapes responsibility for contractors and short-term staff.

With regards to the use of lone worker technology, under 'Monitoring and keeping in touch' (Pg 12), the guidance addresses that any technology needs to be 'embedded into the using organisation, so it well understood' (and therefore utilised).

Craig Swallow, Managing Director SoloProtect, commented: "An update to the HSE's Lone Worker Guidance is very welcome - as lone working has changed significantly since 2012. They understand the risks and are able to have meaningful dialogue with UK employers, which can only lead to a greater focus on safety in the workplace."

To access the latest guidance from the HSE, please visit the Resources section of their website.

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