When we think of lone workers we usually imagine those working in complete isolation such as a security guard manning a building at night, or a farmer working out in the middle of a field. However, while this may be true for many, lone working doesn’t always mean being completely alone.
Lone workers may very well operate in highly populated areas or alongside clients, customers and members of the public.
Narrowing our definition of lone workers down to those completely in isolation means that many of our employees are not being included in our lone worker policy and are not receiving the level of protection they need as a result.
So, what then constitutes lone working and how can we identify lone workers in our organization?
A lone worker is anyone working without the direct and immediate support of supervisors or colleagues. To put it simply, if an employee cannot be seen or heard by a colleague, they are lone working, whether that be for all or part of their working day.
Identifying your lone workers
Some of your lone workers will be easy to identify by assessing work patterns and roles. However, there may be times where you may not even be aware that your employees are lone working. It may be useful to talk to your employees and ask the below questions to identify any ‘hidden lone workers’ in your organization.
- Do colleagues work in different parts of a building or site? E.g. two cleaners working on different floors.
- If working on a noisy site, will a colleague be able to see/hear another colleague if they need help?
- Do your employees travel alone during working hours?
- Are there times where employees working as pairs will be separated? E.g. taking separate lunch breaks.
- Will any of your employees be left working alone if a colleague is on leave?
- Are there times where an employee is left to man the shop floor alone?
- Are single employees left working late in the office or other work sites?
Once lone working practices have been identified, it is important that you risk assess each of these situations and put measures in place to ensure your employees are safe.
Understanding the risks
There are of course different risks associated with the level of isolation that comes with lone working. Those out in a remote and completely isolated location are more exposed to environmental risks that could lead to an accident, while those working alongside members of the public or in client’s home are at higher risk of experiencing violence and aggression.
We have produced an infographic that outlines some of the different types of lone working, examples of different roles associated with such situations and the risks that they may face.
If you would like to discuss identifying or protecting your lone workers, please get in touch via our contact form.
Businesses are increasingly facing a growing number of large-scale incidents that can affect the well-being of their employees and the organisation’s ability to operate. In the aftermath of a terror attack or other disaster situation, the failure to prepare and respond effectively leaves the business and its employees vulnerable, and will considerably prolong an incident – costing valuable time and resources in the process.
While many of us plan and prepare for the practical side of disaster management, the questions around our team members’ safety are arguably the most difficult to address. Yet with our most important assets being our people, is there is more that we can and should be doing to protect them in the event of an incident?
Rising threat levels
The type of incidents businesses face could vary greatly depending on a number of factors; from geography and the work environment to individual ways of working and the job roles performed. Some examples include;
Natural disasters: Storms, earthquakes, floods and natural fires
Manmade events: Fires, plane crashes, public transport disruption and road incidents
Criminal activities: Terrorism, shootings, riots and vandalism
Business continuity issues: Power outages, water or gas leaks and cyber attacks
Just this month we have seen several large-scale incidents around the world. In Colorado, wildfires have displaced thousands of individuals from their homes and places of work, while 600 homes in Hawaii have been destroyed by lava following a volcanic eruption. Elsewhere, in the UK the threat of terror attacks remains ‘severe’, violent crime consumes the media, and extreme storms around much of the world have caused power outages, flooding and general disruption.
Climate change experts predict an increase in natural disasters with warmer temperatures and high tides resulting in more flooding, droughts, wildfires and hurricanes. Coupled with the increase in population and development over a wider geography, more and more lives are being affected each year.
The number of terrorist attacks has also risen in recent years. In 2016, 77 countries were affected by terrorism, while Europe experienced the greatest increase. Data revealed that there were 30 attacks in Western Europe in 2016 compared to 23 in 2015, 2 in 2014 and 5 in 2013.
Such incidents are beyond our control and often take us by surprise. Businesses that once faced few large-scale threats are seeing an increasing number of events happening around them. Plus, with an increasingly varied and mobile workforce, locating staff and managing the effects of an incident has become even more unpredictable and difficult for businesses to contain.
Managing employees during an incident
Perhaps the first step and the greatest challenge in the aftermath of an incident is locating employees who could be affected and ensuring their safety.
As more organisations turn towards less traditional ways of operating, such as utilising remote and lone workers, manual methods are no longer a viable solution. Calling employees individually is much too time-consuming during a time-critical situation, and missing a call leaves both the employee and the employer in the dark.
Fortunately, developments in technology and the widespread use of mobile devices today are providing solutions to many of our incident management challenges. Whether it be warning individuals of a nearby incident, providing peace of mind for friends, family and employers, or communicating practical advice necessary to keep safe, technology is able to offer a solution.
But how can technology provide a way for businesses with a large and varied workforce to locate and protect their employees?
At StaySafe we have recently launched a new app called IncidentEye, which has been specifically designed to help organisations locate and protect employees as quickly and effectively as possible during an emergency. IncidentEye allows you to quickly answer the most important questions a business faces in the aftermath of an event; are my employees in the affected area and are they safe?
The IncidentEye app can be distributed via MDM; from the Apple Apps Store or Google Play and lays dormant on an employee’s phone until an incident is activated in the hub. Using geofencing, the affected area can be isolated on a map and all employees within the vicinity will be immediately alerted via the app with details of the event and prompted to specify whether they are safe or in danger. This enables you to focus on the employees who need assistance, with no disruption for unaffected staff.
IncidentEye maintains privacy by notifying employees whenever their location is collected. Location data should only ever be used for safety purposes which is maintained through a fair use policy and the inability to view location without employee knowledge.
When an incident is active, monitors can view employees’ safety status in real time and respond accordingly. In-app messages can be sent to the affected individuals or groups of individuals, with crucial information. For example, you may choose to;
- Instruct those in the affected area to evacuate
- Warn those nearby to avoid the affected area
- Provide official government advice on how to deal with the situation
- Update employees as the incident progresses and once it is resolved
Ultimately, IncidentEye provides a way for businesses to continue to run as smoothly as possible by accounting for all employees and focusing support where it is needed most. Having a reliable and efficient solution in place not only provides peace of mind for the business but for the workforce as a whole.
With IncidentEye, businesses are able to locate and protect their employees when an incident occurs, better meet their duty of care and ensure that the organisation can recover quickly and effectively following a disaster.
For more information visit our incident management page.
For a personalised demo and pricing please contact us.
Above the Line Security have improved the safety of their at-risk employees by switching from a manual call-in system to the user-friendly StaySafe lone worker solution. Employees at Above the Line Security are responsible for guarding individuals and high-value equipment on busy film sites.
Prone to theft and coming into contact with potentially volatile paparazzi and members of the public, the company required a more reliable way of monitoring the safety of their guards.
StaySafe allows workers on site to send an alert in an emergency while providing the employee with an accurate location via a real-time map. Monitors are alerted if an employee triggers an alert or fails to check-in on the app during their shift.
As technology is rapidly advancing, health and safety challenges are increasingly being solved with the assistance of smartphone apps. From providing quick information on the go to reliable monitoring, the ability of smartphones to harness new technologies allows businesses to access low cost, effective safety solutions.
For those working alone, this is particularly valuable as support from colleagues is not always readily available. Yet with 85% of adults in the UK owning a smartphone, support from a mobile device is.
So in what ways can advancements in mobile technology aid the safety of lone workers? Read more
Garmin inReach mini offers a smaller, lighter satellite communication device with 100% global coverage through Iridium’s satellite network.
The new mini device offers much of the same functionality as the larger Garmin inReach, and provides all of the core functionality of the StaySafe app. It will even allow a lone worker to trigger a panic alarm from a connected Garmin watch, and to exchange messages with a monitor using their watch too.
Accurate location tracking allows remote workers to be monitored from the StaySafe Hub, while an SOS panic allows them to signal for help in an emergency. If a panic alert is triggered on the device, StaySafe will notify a monitor immediately, allowing an organisation to take action.
Sexual harassment in the workplace can take many forms and is shockingly more common than we realise, equally impacting both men and women.
Statistics show that 83 million people have experienced sexual harassment from the age of 15, with 50% of women and 20% of men experiencing sexual harassment at work. Despite these shocking statistics, many more instances of sexual harassment in the workplace still go unnoticed, unreported and subsequently, unresolved.
Forms of sexual harassment
Sexual harassment can range from mild to more extreme forms and can be written, verbal and physical. These range from unwanted comments and discrimination, emails with sexual content, sexual advances, intimidation, unwanted physical contact and assault. All forms should be taken equally as seriously and dealt with immediately by employers.
Although sexual harassment can occur at any time and in any location, there is a greater risk to lone working employees, particularly when working late, out of hours and often out of sight where signalling for help can be challenging.
Lone workers are also at high risk when undertaking visits behind closed-doors, where they could face volatile behaviour and aggression from clients, tenants and abusive members of the public. Commonly, roles which involve lone workers visiting homes without any attendance include; care workers, charity workers, family officers, NHS staff, surveyors and real estate workers.
There are also lone workers who are required to deal with members of the public under the influence of alcohol and drugs or suffering from emotional issues which can cause a change in behaviour. Without the appropriate care and training, individuals can be left particularly vulnerable in one on one situations.
Consequences of sexual harassment
- Stress reaction including anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, lowered self-esteem and more
- Poor company morale
- Less productivity in staff
- Creates an environment for sexual harassment to flourish
By violating the dignity of a worker, sexual harassment can ultimately create an environment of an intimidating, hostile and degrading nature.
What can be done?
Sadly, many cases of sexual harassment go unreported due to workers feeling unable to challenge or defend themselves against the perpetrator if they are in fact a client. As a result, as much as 53% of women and 69% of men did not report sexual harassment at work.
Cases of sexual harassment may not be reported by staff if they do not feel confident that there is substantial support from their company put in place, creating a barrier for them to take action.
The effects of sexual harassment are monumental and even as little as one instance can have detrimental knock-on consequences to both the company and their staff if not investigated properly and dealt with. Therefore, this is why it is so important to educate and train your staff.
Educating and training staff can be achieved through a strong Sexual Harassment policy to ensure the workplace is free of discrimination. Training sessions should also be arranged for employers to ask questions and be as informed as possible on the matter in order to provide reassurance and instil confidence so that they can be prepared and take the necessary response if faced with this situation.
As an employer, you should seek to have a work environment that is understanding and sympathetic to all employees, including dynamic risk assessment training to evaluate risks and how to overcome them.
You should also make it clear who to report incidents of sexual harassment to and reinforce the idea that employees experiences will be taken seriously.
Lone Worker Safety Solution
A safety solution in the form of an app should be highly considered, as it enables a lone worker to signal for help even in difficult situations. This kind of solution can reassure both the company and their staff by providing accurate and reliable safety monitoring through alert functionality and location updates.
If an employee feels threatened whilst working remotely or otherwise, they can raise an alarm secretly and unknown to their attacker by inputting a special duress PIN. This will fool the attacker into thinking the app has been disabled when in fact a duress alert has been raised in the Hub and help can be sent immediately.
Generated by pressing the phones power button, a user can raise a panic alert swiftly and discreetly from a hidden area, such as a bag or pocket.
The StaySafe app can even be paired with a bluetooth button which can be attached to a lanyard, clothing or worn around the wrist, and used send a panic alert without touching their phone.
While safety measures, policies and training are essential in protecting employees from sexual harassment and assault, a lone worker app is a reliable way of ensuring a lone worker is never completely alone.
Housing Association Aspire Housing launched StaySafe to oversee the safety of their lone workers when visiting potentially dangerous neighbourhoods and properties.
Aspire Housing is made up of three strands; Aspire Housing, PM Training and Realise Charity. Lone working is common practice in both the Housing and Charity strands, where employees regularly visit homes and properties alone.
Housing employees visit homes to support clients as well as carrying out repairs and maintenance operations, while lone workers operating in the charity strand meet with and support young people.
Working across a range of environments and often behind closed doors, Aspire recognised that their employees could be exposed to a number of risks on a daily basis. While safety has always been a priority, Aspire identified that the dedicated device they had in place had become outdated and was no longer fit for purpose. As a result, Aspire undertook a review of the other solutions available and decided to trial StaySafe. Trial users responded positively to the new software and Aspire felt that StaySafe provided the most cost-effective and user-friendly solution for their staff.
Hafod Housing are a not-for-profit organisation, providing affordable housing, care and support across South East Wales. Managing over 4,000 homes, Hafod Housing rely on a team of lone workers operating over a range of roles; from maintenance surveyors to caretakers and housing officers.
Lone workers at Hafod Housing are largely public facing and are frequently required to make visits independently to properties. Hafod works with some of the most vulnerable people in the community and do not always have the opportunity to meet and assess residents before housing them. Due to the nature of their work, Hafod’s housing officers are at higher risk of antisocial behaviours such as violence and aggression.
Those working to maintain properties regularly use ladders, heavy tools and carry out work on roofs and other potentially unstable structures. The risks they face tend to be more environmental as they are exposed to common workplace risks such as slips, trips and falls.
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.