For lone working staff, training is particularly important as they work in environments where there are no colleagues around to provide a helping hand or point out a mistake that could lead to an accident.
News stories regularly point out a lack of training as a contributing or sole factor for serious workplace injuries and fatalities. Just last week an incident was reported in the news of a lone worker being crushed by a falling vehicle. Aside from a lack in proper risk assessment, it was also found that the staff member involved was not properly trained or experienced to carry out the task in hand safely.
Training is incredibly important for a business to implement as it can:
- Prevent accidents caused by improper work practices or techniques
- Prevent incidents by defusing potentially violent situations
- Prevent escalation/severity of an accident or incident by knowing how to respond
- Challenge complacent attitudes
- Create a positive health and safety culture
- Increase wellbeing, confidence and productivity
- Help you meet your legal duty of care
- Help you avoid the financial costs related to accidents and incidents
If your business does not currently offer training to your lone working staff, there are just a few steps you need to take to identify and implement staff training within your organisation.
Step 1: Identify Training Needs
Safety training requirements vary greatly between organisations and job roles and the need may not be immediately obvious. However, training needs should be identified early on as part of the risk assessment process and included within your lone worker policy.
Below are just some examples of training that may be required based on two risk types.
Classic health and safety issues
- Identifying risks and hazards
- Training required to carry out a job competently e.g. handling substances, working with electricity, heavy lifting
- Using and operating any equipment, machinery and vehicles safely
- How to respond/raise an alert if an accident occurs
People and conflict based
- Recognising, diffusing and responding to threatening, aggressive and violent situations
- The safety value of mobile phones, duress codes, contingency planning and exit strategies and how to use them
- How to use any lone worker devices that have been implemented by the business.
- E.g. Arla online training course
Step 2: Agree Training Methods
The type of training and how it is carried out will also differ greatly depending on individual business needs and style. You may also find that different groups of employees require different types or levels of training.
For low-risk environments such as office-based work, providing written information may be the only requirement necessary. For higher risk roles you may want to consider on the job training from an experienced colleague, online interactive training or classroom training from an external organisation or individual. There are a whole range of training programmes available to you so it is probably helpful to do some research into the different options.
By law you are also responsible for self-employed or contracted workers under your supervision. You must ensure that they are adequately trained in the tasks you are asking of them and are aware of your policy and health and safety procedures.
Step 3: Include agreed training in your lone worker policy
It is important that required training is included in your lone worker policy and that all lone workers are made aware of what is expected of them. Other health and safety information should also be included such as who to contact in the case of an emergency.
As part of your policy, you could consider creating a schedule for refresher training depending on risk levels and nature of the business.
Step 4: Implement Training
It is important that all staff members receive the training you provide. If several staff members are unable to attend a training session, you may want to consider running it over a couple of days or consider alternative methods for those individuals such as online or recorded training material.
For anyone carrying out potentially dangerous work alone, it may be useful to shadow the employee on the job or recreate role playing scenarios for them to react to, as part of the training. For example, if your lone workers work closely with vulnerable individuals and behind closed doors, you may want to source a training programme that allows them to role play a situation in which a client becomes aggressive.
However you decide to implement lone worker training, remember that doing so could save lives.
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(This article was written by Helen Down of StaySafe, UK, and is republished here with permission).