Last updated: 07.03.13

Managers 'must train lone workers in health and safety'

When it comes to training employees, one aspect of workplace policy that should not be missed out is managing the risks to lone members of staff.

According to Personnel Today, lone workers are likely to be susceptible to more threats than office staff, as they do not have their supervisor or colleagues nearby to help them with tasks that could put them in danger.

Because of this, it is vital for bosses to undertake a thorough risk assessment that reflects how hazards can change based on certain factors like perception, time of day and location, before employees are allowed to work in a dedicated area alone.

According to Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidelines, lone workers are those who operate by themselves from a fixed base or work separately from others on the same premises.

They are also defined as people who do their job away from a fixed base - such as healthcare workers and environment inspectors - and those working in enclosed spaces, while home-workers are also classed as lone employees.

It is the responsibility of the manager of a company to ensure lone workers are at no greater risk than other staff and adhere to Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, which states it is up to the employer to prepare a written policy and present it to workers, provide safe systems of work, offer a safe working environment and roll out information, instruction training and supervision.

If managers feel like the task of training lone workers is a little daunting, they could turn to the services of a third-party provider to make the activity run more smoothly.

Virtual College, an e-learning institution based in West Yorkshire, offers online modules targeting employees that work on their own. It boasts training in Lone Working In Healthcare, which outlines the responsibility of the manager in looking after their staff and answers all key questions, while it also has a Personal Safety for Lone Workers course that is designed to demonstrate the risks of working in an isolated environment.