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.
Every organisation holds a legal duty of care to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all employees, as far as is reasonably possible. This is the foundational principle of the New Zealand Health and Safety At Work Act.
Basic requirements include carrying out risk assessments to identify risks, taking appropriate steps to reduce them (if they can’t be eliminated), and preparing staff to deal with the identified risks. Where appropriate, additional training, equipment and procedures should be implemented to reduce or eliminate the hazard.
The Health and Safety At Work Act makes it clear that organisations are responsible for their workers anywhere they work, including whilst they are out of the office and when working alone. Organisations must provide communication mechanisms and emergency plans for all workers, in all locations, including those working alone and/or remotely.
Failure to comply with this legislation is likely to result in legal action which could cost the business in fines, resources and time, with cases taking months or even years to conclude. In some cases, individuals within the organisation could face prosecution and imprisonment if they are found to be at fault.
Organisations also hold a moral responsibility to protect their employees. Unsafe working conditions could leave workers, as well as
their friends and family, feeling uncomfortable and frightened while they work.
As well as affecting their well being, low morale and higher levels of stress are likely to result in lower levels of productivity and a rise in employee sick leave. In fact, research has shown that stress and mental health were the most common causes for long-term absence.
With millions of working days being lost worldwide to work-related illness and injury each year, the performance of the overall organisation is also at risk.
If the work environment is particularly stressful, a company may notice a high turnover of staff. Not only are there high costs involved in turnover, but extra time and resources are spent on training and transitioning new employees into the organisation.
There are a large range of financial costs involved with unsafe workplaces – from direct costs associated with legal action, to the indirect costs such as lost time and lack of productivity. In New Zealand an unsafe workplace can be subject to legal action and fines even if an accident has not occurred.
Below are just a few examples of the potential financial implications;
- Covering or replacing staff
- Sick pay
- Lower levels of productivity
- Lost time due to stop work orders
- Time and costs spent investigating an accident
- Legal fines
- Loss of business reputation
- Loss of contracts/clients
- Damage to property or equipment
- Other legal costs
- Excess on any insurance claims
Tips for managing lone worker safety
There are several basic steps that every organisation should take to protect their lone workers. These include;
- Carrying out thorough risk assessments for all lone working tasks
- Developing and implementing policies and procedures around identified risks
- Training employees to handle identified risk such as de-escalating an aggressive situation or how to properly operate a piece of equipment
- Implementing protective clothing and equipment
- Regularly assessing policies, procedures and risk assessment
- Ensuring there is a way to monitor and manage the safety of lone workers
- Ensuring employees have a way of receiving immediate assistance in an emergency
The StaySafe Solution
StaySafe offers an effective way to monitor and manage lone worker safety while ensuring you are meeting your legal duty of care.
Comprised of an app and web-based monitoring Hub, the StaySafe app provides a way for lone workers to signal for help in an emergency
situation, while the Hub provides the employer with an easy and efficient way to monitor the safety of their workers.
Together this provides the communicaiton methods and emergency plans required by the Health and Safety At Work Act.
With StaySafe your organisation can;
- Reduce harm by sending immediate support direct to the lone worker in an emergency
- Demonstrate good governance by sending a message to staff that the organisation cares about their safety
- Reduce manual costs and increase productivity, morale and reputation
- Provide evidence that protective methods have been put in place during an audit, or in case of litigation
- Meet your legal duty of care when used as part of a robust lone worker policy
The StaySafe solution is robust, reliable and flexible making it a suitable solution across any industry, company size and geography. Designed to be incredibly user-friendly and easy to use, using StaySafe fits effortlessly into the working day, saving you time, money and providing peace of mind.