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Training is particularly important where there is limited supervision to control, guide and or help in situations of uncertainty. Training may be critical, to avoid people panicking in unusual situations.  Lone workers need to be sufficiently experienced and fully understand the risks and precautions in their job.

Employers should set the limits to what can and cannot be done while they are working alone and ensure that employees are competent to deal with circumstances that are new, unusual or beyond the scope of training.  For example when to stop work and seek advice from a supervisor or how to handle aggression.

Although lone workers cannot be subject to constant supervision, it is still an employer’s duty to ensure they are healthy and safe at work. Supervision can help to ensure that an employee understands the risks associated with their work and that the necessary health and safety precautions are carried out.

Supervisors can also provide guidance in situations where there is uncertainty. Supervision of health and safety can often be carried out when checking the progress and quality of the work. This may take the form of periodic site visits combined with discussions in which health and safety issues are raised.

The extent of supervision required depends on the risks involved and the ability of the lone worker to identify and handle health and safety issues.  Employees new to a job; undergoing training; doing a job that presents special risks, or dealing with new situations may need to be accompanied at first.

The level of supervision required is a management decision, which should be based on the findings of a risk assessment: the higher the risk, the greater the level of supervision that will be required.

It should not be left to the lone worker to decide on what level of supervision they require nor left to them to decide whether they require assistance.

Procedures and systems must be put in place to monitor lone workers, to help keep them healthy and safe and to ensure that the whereabouts and safety of lone workers are known at all times.

These may include the following:

  • Supervisors periodically visiting and observing people working alone
  • Regular contact between the lone worker and supervisor, using either mobile phones, telephones, radios or e-mail, account must be taken off the worker’s understanding of English
  • There may be the need for the use of automatic warning devices which operate if specific signals are not received periodically from the lone worker, for example, staff security systems and or other devices designed to raise the alarm in an emergency, these can be operated manually or automatically by the absence of activity or the Use of covert distress messages to summon assistance in a discrete manner
  • Regular checks of reception areas, interview rooms and other areas where the lone worker works to ensure they are okay.

Checks should be done to ensure a lone worker has returned to their base or home once their task is completed.

If a person becomes ill, has an accident, or there is an emergency, they should be capable of responding correctly to emergencies. The Risk assessment should identify foreseeable events and emergency procedures should be established and employees trained in them.

Information regarding the premises’ emergency procedures and danger areas should be given to all lone workers. They should have access to adequate first-aid facilities, and mobile workers should carry a first-aid kit suitable for treating minor injuries. Occasionally, the risk assessment may indicate that lone workers need first-aid training.

Relevant procedures should be documented to the cover the situation when a lone worker is planning visits to, or meetings with, service users, they should be fully aware of these procedures in order to mitigate the risks involved with this.

Good procedures will include the need for full consideration of any potential health and or safety implications. This will include the gathering of as much relevant information as possible.

The absence of any such information should be regarded as a risk factor in itself.