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Essentially when carrying out a risk assessment for a lone worker, he or she must be involved in the risk assessment process as they will have useful information about how the work is done which will make the risk assessment more thorough and effective.

They must also be consulted on health and safety matters. It is important to talk to all employees, not just lone workers and their safety representatives, as they can be a valuable source of information and advice. An effective consultation will also help to ensure that all relevant hazards are identified, and appropriate and proportionate control measures are chosen.

Research has shown that workplaces in which effective consultation takes place are safer and healthier as a result.
Joint working to solve problems and address legal duties has the added benefit of increasing employees’ commitment to implementing decisions or actions.

They have ownership of the process because they have been actively involved in making those decisions.  Lone workers should not be placed at more risk than any other employees.

This may require extra risk-control measures. Precautions should take account of normal work and foreseeable emergencies, e.g. fire, equipment failure, illness and accidents. Employers should identify situations where people work alone and ask questions such as:

Employers of lone workers must involve their staff when undertaking the required risk assessment process and; take steps to check control measures are put in place to mitigate these risks.

Examples of control measures are:-

  • Instruction and training; and or supervision and issuing of suitable protective equipment.
  • If the risk assessment identifies a hazard, steps must be taken to address this.
  • If it cannot be eliminated, what controls can be put in place to reduce the hazard, can a less risky option be implemented, or can access to the hazard be prevented.
  • When a risk assessment shows it is not possible for the work to be conducted safely by a lone worker, then this risk must be addressed, for example, issuing the worker with a panic alarm.
  • Where a lone worker is working at another employer’s workplace, that employer should inform the lone worker’s employer, of any risks and the required control measures.

Employers also need to be aware of any specific law on lone working applying in their industry. Examples of this include supervision in diving operations; vehicles carrying explosives and fumigation work.

Employers should take steps to check that control measures are used and review the risk assessment from time to time to ensure that they are still adequate.