Accidents happen when you least expect them, and this applies to the workplace as well. You must keep your employees and yourself safe by minimizing the risks to their safety. This is especially true when working alone.
The fact of the matter is many tasks, and workplaces involve working solo as a necessity. While this is normal, the risk goes up as well. Workplace dangers include accidents, violence, and mental health as well.
Lone worker safety isn’t only a concern in factories or industrial job sites. Jobs like retail, real estate, and healthcare also have potential dangers for solo employees. Here’s a helpful list of 10 lone worker safety tips on how to keep lone employees safe.
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1. Defining a Lone Worker
A clear idea of what a lone worker is will help you understand how to protect them better. In general, anyone who doesn’t have direct physical supervision or assistance on a worksite classifies as a lone worker. Depending on certain conditions, this puts their jobs and task at high risk.
Some lone working jobs need little personal interaction. That doesn’t mean it should always be the case, though. Interaction is essential for every job and career – even more so for lone worker safety.
2. Assess Potential Hazards
One of the major ways on how to keep lone workers safe is through assessing potential work hazards. Some of the most common lone worker safety risks include:
- Working late
- Handling cash or valuables
- Operating with electricity or hazardous materials
- Work areas with poor lighting or visibility
- Intimidating clients
- Vicinities with high crime and violence
While it’s impossible to solve issues that are part of a bigger problem, managing them is doable. By assessing these beforehand, you’ll be able to employ work safety strategies.
3. Reduce Risks
Ensuring workers have proper training is a good start in protecting lone workers. Doing so means they’re able to handle equipment the right way, know SOPs, and pursue the correct response. It’ the employees’ right to have a safe workspace.
Whether that means having the right warning signs, railings, or essential first-aid skills. It’s important to have the know-how on how to prevent and handle emergencies. Finally, always follow Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards.
4. Inspire a Zero-Incident Mindset
The term “lone worker” doesn’t mean that they no longer have colleagues. While things might be a little different, it’s still important to give lone workers a sense of teamwork. A zero-incident mindset can help with this.
Not only does it encourage everyone to have safety in mind, but it also keeps them motivated to maintain it. Preventing an accident is always better than solving it. Being able to do so while making everyone feel included is a good bonus.
5. Encourage Them to Speak Up
Those who work in an area often will find a safety hazard or two. Make sure you know about it and encourage lone workers to report it. Not knowing potential or ongoing safety hazards will reflect poorly on you and the management.
If possible, have a routine meeting, whether in person or remote, to discuss issues. Otherwise, institute a form system, so workers are free to log reports or share their input. Don’t forget to check this daily.
6. Do Check-Ins on the Regular
Checking in with a supervisor or another employee often is a good SOP to have. Training employees to check-in using communication devices is a good first step. It’s also important for the supervisor or fellow employee to also initiate contact.
Always make sure everything is alright. Don’t wait too long after a lone worker misses a scheduled check-in. If, and when possible, do a physical follow-up too.
Sending someone there gives you and the lone worker peace of mind.
7. Safety Devices Are a Must
There are many lone worker safety devices available to keep your employees safe. These include physical equipment like harnesses and electronic fall alerts or hazard meters. Don’t skimp out on these, as the health and wellbeing of your workforce come first.
Lone worker monitoring devices provide an added layer of protection. Make sure your workers are well trained. This includes any necessary certifications, as well as proper handling and maintenance.
8. Keep Personal Info on Hand
Record keeping might not sound like a safety tip, but it sure is! It is necessary to keep track of where every worker is at all times, especially in case of emergencies. Keep personal information such as emergency contact numbers updated and accessible.
Medical histories and allergies can be life-saving information for injured and unconscious workers. Writing down and organizing safety concerns helps avoid future accidents. In case of evacuation or emergency, having an easy-to-grab binder is crucial.
Don’t let your lone workers fall through the cracks. Update your logs on the regular, and keep tabs on the needs and whereabouts of your solo employees.
9. Always Have a Means of Communication
Miscommunication always leads to trouble. As cliché as it is, communication in any workplace is essential. Meetings are great to keep things are clear with both the management and employees.
However, it shouldn’t end there. Ensure every lone worker has a phone, radio, or walkie-talkie with them at all times. This is crucial if they’ll be spending time in areas that are hard to reach or not often visited.
10. Know the Law
Above all else, it’s important to know the law. This provides both you and the employees a stable legal middle ground. It’s not uncommon for companies to battle work-related lawsuits.
You don’t want this to happen to you. So always put their safety first and make sure you are up to the required workers’ code. This will limit any potential problems while avoiding heavy-hitting court cases.
Prioritize Lone Worker Safety
Working alone is often dangerous, especially without good safety protocols or support. It is paramount you don’t let lone worker safety fall by the wayside. Consider what your lone workers need to improve safety and reduce risk.
Train them on proper procedures and give them the necessary equipment. Finally, make sure they have a communication channel if something goes wrong. For more information and tips on workplace safety, our blog has plenty to offer.