Lone working risk assessment simply considers what could go wrong with someone assign to work alone in a particular location (Hazards/Risk that could be faced by someone assigned to work alone in a particular location), and actions that can be adopted to mitigate the risks.
This guide aims to explain what your legal responsibilities are when it comes to risk assessments, and how to effectively carry out a risk assessment for your lone workers.
Before we get back to the subject matter (Lone working risk assessment), let us get to understand some parameters involved in lone working.
Who is a lone worker?
A lone worker is a person who works by his/herself without close or direct supervision.
Lone worker include:
- People in fixed establishments where only one person works on the premises, e.g. In small workshops, kiosks, petrol stations, shops and home-workers.
- People working separately from others, e.g. In factories, warehouses, some research and training establishments, leisure centres or fairgrounds
- People who work outside normal hours, e.g. Cleaners, security, special production, maintenance or repair staff, etc.
- People who work working away from their fixed base, e.g. On construction, plant installation, maintenance and cleaning work, electrical repairs, lift repairs, painting and decorating, vehicle recovery, etc.
- Agricultural and forestry workers
- Service workers, e.g. Rent collectors, postal staff, social workers, home helps, district nurses, pest control workers, drivers, engineers, architects, estate agents, sales representatives and similar professionals visiting domestic and commercial premises.
Read Also: Risk Assessment
What is a lone working risk assessment?
A lone working risk assessment is a process of identifying and assessing risks associated with a job role carried out by a lone worker. When carrying out a risk assessment for lone working staff, you must consider hazards related to the work being carried out, the people they come into contact with and the different environments they travel through and work in. The purpose of the assessment is to identify what needs to be done to control health and safety risks for your lone workers.
Hazards associated with lone working
Hazards that a lone worker may encounter include:
- Accidents or emergencies arising out of the work, including inadequate provision of first aid
- Sudden illnesses
- Inadequate provision of rest, hygiene and welfare facilities
- Physical violence from members of the public and/or intruders
Lone working risk assessment is bound by law as there is a basic legal requirement and should be carried out for all employees. If you employ five or more people, you are legally required to write down and keep a record of your risk assessment.
Read Also: 6 Methods of risk assessment you should know
What should lone working risk assessments contain?
Your lone working risk assessment should contain:
- The hazards identified,
- Who might be harmed and how,
- What procedures are already in place to prevent harm and
- What further action you will take to further reduce risk.
Main risk area that should also be covered in the risk assessment includes:
Environmental Risks: Lone workers can be at risk from the environment in which they work. Consider each of their workplaces and take a walk around them with your employees, thinking about how their environment could impact their safety. It is important to remember that this might also include how easy it is to call for and receive help.
Some environmental factors you might include on your lone worker risk assessment template are:
- Phone signal
Health Risks: Even the fittest and healthiest people can be suddenly taken ill. Something as seemingly innocent as an ankle sprain in an area with no mobile phone signal can put your lone worker at risk.
When you fill in this lone worker risk assessment template consider the demographics of your staff body. If you have people who suffer from medical conditions, such as diabetes, asthma, or high blood pressure, you should consider what would happen if they were suddenly unwell.
Social Risks: Lone workers who do roles that involve other people or members of the public can be at risk of violence or aggression, Examples, Bailiffs, nurses, teachers, bus drivers, solicitors, and salespeople all work alone with members of the public regularly. When you complete the lone worker risk assessment template, consider the hazards of working with the public present and how you intend to mitigate them.
At the end of the risk assessment a comprehensive report should be developed. The report will contain – Who carried out the risk assessment, the date it was carried out and the date of any next steps and when a review is due.
How to create a lone working risk assessment?
This risk assessment should be carried out by someone who is responsible for health and safety in your organisation and is experienced and knowledgeable enough to do so. Once you have identified all lone workers in your organisation, you can follow the conventional 5 steps to risk assessment as set out by the Health and Safety Executive.
Identify hazards: Look around your workplace and think about what may cause harm (these are called hazards).
- How people work and how plant and equipment are used
- What chemicals and substances are used
- What safe or unsafe work practices exist
- The general state of your premises
- Look back at your accident and ill health records as these can help you identify less obvious hazards. Take account of non-routine operations, such as maintenance, cleaning or changes in production cycles.
- Think about hazards to health, such as manual handling, use of chemicals and causes of work-related stress.
- For each hazard, think about how employees, contractors, visitors or members of the public might be harmed.
- Vulnerable workers
- Some workers have particular requirements, for example young workers, migrant workers, new or expectant mothers and people with disabilities.
- Talk to workers
- Involve your employees as they will usually have good ideas.
Assess the risks: Once you have identified the hazards, decide how likely it is that someone could be harmed and how serious it could be. This is assessing the level of risk.
- Who might be harmed and how
- What you’re already doing to control the risks
- What further action you need to take to control the risks
- Who needs to carry out the action
- When the action is needed by
Control the risks: Look at what you’re already doing, and the controls you already have in place. Ask yourself:
- Can I get rid of the hazard altogether?
- If not, how can I control the risks so that harm is unlikely?
If you need further controls, consider:
- Redesigning the job
- Replacing the materials, machinery or process
- Organising your work to reduce exposure to the materials, machinery or process
- Identifying and implementing practical measures needed to work safely
- Providing personal protective equipment and making sure workers wear it
Put the controls you have identified in place. You’re not expected to eliminate all risks but you need to do everything ‘reasonably practicable’ to protect people from harm. This means balancing the level of risk against the measures needed to control the real risk in terms of money, time or trouble.
Record your findings: If you employ 5 or more people, you must record your significant findings, including:
- The hazards (things that may cause harm)
- Who might be harmed and how
- What you are doing to control the risks
To help you, we have a risk assessment template and examples. Do not rely purely on paperwork as your main priority should be to control the risks in practice.
Review the controls: You must review the controls you have put in place to make sure they are working. You should also review them if:
- They may no longer be effective
- There are changes in the workplace that could lead to new risks such as changes to:
- A process
- The substances or equipment used
- Also consider a review if your workers have spotted any problems or there have been any accidents or near misses.
Update your risk assessment record with any changes you make.
Lone working risk assessment checklists
For further guidance on developing your lone worker risks assessment, you can follow the lone working checklist below to ensure you are covering some of the basics:
- Is the task suitable for a person to handle alone?
- Has proper training been given to the lone worker?
- Does the task involve handling dangerous equipment or substances?
- Do these substances or equipment require supervision or a second person to operate?
- Is the task particularly stressful or upsetting? Is your lone worker mentally equipped to cope with the work?
- Is there a risk of violence or aggression?
- Does your employee have an existing medical condition which provides additional support?
- Are you assessing your employees separately? E.g. trainees, young, pregnant and disabled workers.
- Is there a clear communication procedure during an emergency? Remember to consider those whose first language is not English
- Do your lone workers understand emergency protocol? – do they know what to do if they fall ill, have an accident or if there is an emergency such as a fire?
- Are your lone workers monitored and properly supervised?