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Three Reasons to Invest in Lone Worker Safety

It is currently estimated that 22% of the working population can be considered lone workers. With increasing pressures on businesses to enhance profits and productivity, and an increase in automation and new technologies, this number continues to grow year on year.

While lone working allows organisations to operate in a more efficient manner, it brings with it a new set of health and safety challenges. Lone workers are more vulnerable to the risks of violence, abuse, accident and injury since any risks they face, are faced alone.

But should organisations be taking extra care when protecting their lone working staff? This guide outlines three business reasons why you should take lone worker safety seriously; legal, moral and financial.

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In the News: Lone worker asphyxiation

Chelsea and Westminster NHS Trust and Imperial College London, have been fined following the death of a lone worker.

In October 2011, Damian Bowen was asphyxiated whilst decanting liquid nitrogen, used to freeze blood samples, in a London laboratory.

An investigation into the incident by the HSE, found that the local exhaust ventilation provided to extract dangerous substances, had been switched off. When released into the air, the liquid nitrogen expanded as a gas, replacing the oxygen in the room and creating a deadly atmosphere.

Working with hazardous substances

Working with hazardous substances could cause a number of health issues if not handled correctly. From burns and inflammation, to cancers, respiratory problems and even death.

Legally, procedures and control measures must be put in place for employees handling or working near hazardous substances. In this case, the ventilation system would have been a sufficient way to prevent harm, and Bowen would not have died.

The failure to implement a system that prevented the extraction from being switched off, a proper system of maintaining the equipment and clear arrangements from preventing lone working with liquid nitrogen, demonstrated a clear breach of health and safety legislation.

The outcome

Both Chelsea & Westminster NHS Trust and Imperial College London, pleaded guilty of breaching Section 3 (1) and Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

The building in which the incident occurred, belonged to Chelsea & Westminster NHS Trust, who were fined £80,000 and ordered to pay costs of £23,069.19.

However, the room was rented by Imperial College London who owned the liquid nitrogen store. They were fined £70,000 with costs of £23,069.19.

Lessons learnt

The death of lone worker Damian Bowen, was an entirely preventable incident. When working with hazardous substances, employers must ensure that not only are procedures in place to prevent harm, but they are always put into practice and regularly checked.

If working alone with hazardous substances, a thorough risk assessment should determine whether it is safe to do so. In this case, the HSE inspector involved concluded that lone working should not have been allowed.

If lone working is determined to be safe in other circumstances, additional safety measures must be put in place to ensure they are at no more risk than employees working alongside colleagues.

One effective way of doing so, is to ensure every lone worker has a way to signal for help in an emergency, even if they are unable to physically do so themselves.

With StaySafe, missed check-in and man-down alerts ensure someone is alerted as soon as possible, even if an employee in knocked unconscious. This is incredibly important for those working with hazardous substances where an accident would require immediate medical attention.

StaySafe available on intrinsically safe smartphones

The StaySafe app is available on Exloc Instruments’ recently launched intrinsically safe ATEX Smartphone – providing a reliable safety solution for those operating alone in hazardous locations.

The IS520.1 is a robust, industrial smartphone certified for ATEX Zone 1 and Class I DIV1 hazardous areas. This means the device meets requirements to be safely used in the most volatile of environments, where using a regular mobile device could create an electrostatic discharge, which could cause ignition of a flammable or combustible atmosphere.

The ATEX smartphone’s latest technology is fully compatible with the StaySafe app and all of its features including; timed check-in sessions, panic alerts, discreet panic and man-down alerts. Read more

The hidden costs of poor health & safety

When discussing the costs associated with poor workplace health and safety, direct costs such as fines and legal costs tend to take centre stage. While fines given to a business following a safety failing are designed to have a significant impact on the business, there are a multitude of ‘hidden costs’ that many forget to consider. Yet these hidden costs can also have a significant, and in many cases, ongoing financial impact on the business.

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Managing and Monitoring Remote Workers

A remote worker is anyone who works away from a fixed work base, such as an office or work site. Remote workers may work in small groups or on their own, and their roles are likely to require travel to different locations.

Typical jobs requiring remote working include:

  • Comunity and mental health workers
  • Mobile mortgage managers and business bankers
  • Travelling salespeople
  • Insurance assessors
  • Field service engineers
  • Maintenance/repairmen
  • Surveyors
  • Landscapers

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Lone Worker Monitoring Service

Lone worker monitoring

Lone worker monitoring refers to the practice of monitoring the safety of employees who work alone or out of sight and sound of colleagues.

There are a number of systems that can be used to monitor work alone employees, many of which will use a method of check-in, and in some cases, location tracking and emergency alerts.

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Three Reasons to Invest in Lone Worker Safety

It is estimated that 22% of today’s working population can be considered lone workers. With increasing pressures on businesses to enhance profits and productivity, and an increase in automation and new technologies, this number continues to grow year on year.

While lone working allows organisations to operate in a more efficient manner, with it comes a new set of health and safety challenges. Lone workers are more vulnerable to the risks of violence, abuse, accident and injury as any risk they face, is faced alone.

But should organisations be taking extra care when protecting their lone working staff?

This guide outlines three business reasons why you should take lone worker safety seriously; legal, moral and financial.

Read more

Staying safe while working alone during the holiday season

For many, the holiday season means long periods of leisure and time spent in the home surrounded by family and friends. But for some, work continues as usual through these periods. However, we do not always consider that health and safety risks around the holiday season not only change but are likely to become more prevalent and heightened due to bad weather conditions (even in summer) and human risk.

So what are the increased hazards and what can we do to stay safe over the holiday period?

Click below to read on…

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1 in 6 wouldn’t report a workplace hazard

A new survey published by Accident Advice Helpline, has revealed that hazards aren’t always being reported in the workplace. 1 in 6 said they would not report identified workplace hazards despite 25% admitting that they or someone they worked with had been harmed at work.

When asked why, the respondents gave the following answers;

  • 29% said they didn’t have the time
  • 24% felt the hazard didn’t affect them
  • 23% said it wasn’t their responsibility
  • 23% didn’t know who to report a hazard to
  • 13.2% worried about getting in trouble
  • 7.5% were told not to report an issue

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Creating a positive safety culture

Humans by nature are highly influenced by our environment and those around us. When entering a new workplace, we are likely to adapt to our surroundings rather than go against the flow, even if it means ignoring the rules that are in place.

This is why creating a positive safety culture is crucial in establishing lasting behaviours in our staff. If the majority of our colleagues are behaving safely and following rules, the rest of the workforce are likely to follow suit. Read more