Guide to a Lone Worker Policy – (Lone Worker Policy Example Included)
As an employer, it is your legal responsibility to ensure the health and safety of all employees. This includes employees who may be working alone (“lone working”). To help look after your lone workers, it is recommended to create a lone worker policy that provides a mechanism so that both employers and employes understand the associated risks with working alone, as well as their responsibilities. An effective policy can also help during any legal issues that may arise.
This guide will provide the basis of an effective lone worker policy example that you can mould to fit your own business. In this guide you will learn:
- Why a lone worker policy is important
- Performing a risk assessment of lone working
- Structuring the policy
- What to include within the policy
Why is a lone worker policy important?
Maintaining and improving the health and safety of employees is of paramount importance. Not only because it is a legal requirement, but because employees are more productive when they know that they’re safe – and, if they feel like they are being looked after, are more likely to stick around – so ensuring that the correct procedures are in place to protect employees at work is essential to any business.
When it comes to lone workers, whilst having a lone worker policy isn’t a legal requirement, it is still a good idea to have one so that those who are working alone within your business are aware of their obligations to ensure their own health and safety, but also so that they know of the associated risks with their role and what to do in the event that something goes wrong. It is estimated that around 150 lone workers are attacked every day – don’t let your employees become just another statistic!
How to assess the risks of lone working
Risk assessments are the backbone of any health and safety initiatives. By assessing the risks of potential scenarios, you can better plan for what could happen, instead of being caught out when it does happen. By correctly performing a risk assessment of your lone workers, you can plan out different scenarios and what action should be taken under each scenario (if any action is needed). This provides lone workers with the knowledge of how to deal with different situations, as well as giving the employer information on how a situation should be dealt with.
When performing a risk assessment for lone working, think of the potential scenarios they could be caught up in on their own. It could be scenarios such as a burglary or an accidental injury. Then think about what the most appropriate action is in each scenario, such as activating a lone worker alarm to call for emergency services.
Struggling to think of scenarios? Here are a few things you could try:
- Observe your employees within their working environment
- Invite employees to complete a questionnaire – after all, they’re probably aware of the potential risks of their job
- Review previous incidents
- Arrange a focus group to openly discuss potential scenarios
Structuring your lone worker policy
Once you have completed a risk assessment, it is time to begin structuring the lone worker policy itself.
The policy should be based on templates for other policies within the business so that there is a standardised format that employees can easily understand. Within the content of the policy itself, clear, concise language should be used that is easy-to-read and understand.
If resources or third-party information needs referencing in the policy, it is best practice to include this information directly in the policy instead of linking to third-parties. This way you avoid the policy including information that may become dated, such as links to specific websites. This way there is less maintenance of the policy needed, and employees can rest assured that policy is as up-to-date as it can be.
Some employers like to shorten words and use acronyms. If this is the case for your business, always make sure to spell out the word first and then use acronyms later on. This avoids a scenario where an employee doesn’t understand what an acronym stands for, such as “LW” for Lone Worker.
What to include within your lone worker policy
Now you have collected the risk assessment and laid out the structure of your policy, it’s time to begin populating it.
Firstly, the policy should have a section that provides the background to what the policy is there for and its purpose. This allows any employee to take a look at the policy and understand what it is there to do.
Secondly, the risk assessment that was carried out earlier should be included in an easy-to-read format. Usually, a table structure that outlines the risk, appropriate action, and the severity, will suffice.
After that, the policy should begin to define the organisations commitment to the health and safety of lone workers, whilst also setting out the responsibilities of different employee ranks. For example, managers would be responsible for their subordinates.
Finally, the policy should state the procedure for reporting an incident. This should include who/where to report the incident and the details to include within the report. This allows incidents to be logged and can be used to inform future decision making when it comes to updating the policy.
Lone worker policy example
We have created a lone worker policy template to help you get started with developing your business’s own lone working policy. You can download our lone worker policy example here.
Having now followed this guide, you should be well on your way to having a fully-fledged lone worker policy that will help improve the health and safety of your employees that work alone.