December 15th, 2017

Lone Worker Protection: What Is It And Why Is It Important?

Lone Worker Protection: What Is It And Why Is It Important?

Lone workers (people who work by themselves without close supervision) are often left in a vulnerable position. Sometimes, that vulnerability is simply a result of being alone. Considering the alarming data on attacks and injuries suffered by lone workers in the UK, it’s clear to see that lone worker protection is a necessary security measure.


Statistics from the British Crime Survey reveal that up to 150 lone workers are attacked in a single day and data released from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reveals 142 workers were fatally injured at work between April 2014 and March 2015. These troubling findings draw attention to the need for effective lone worker solutions—measures that will ensure the safety of people working alone.


What is lone worker protection?

According to the HSE, lone working refers to those who work by themselves without close or direct supervision. Lone worker protection refers to the services or products that support and protect lone workers and the businesses who employ them.


Lone worker protection is important because it helps:

  1. The worker. Whilst many lone workers operate in low risk environments, some personnel work under very dangerous conditions. Certain locations or working times are more perilous than others. Appropriate protection should be tailored to each worker’s specific situation. For instance, being the only worker in a remote warehouse is going to pose different risks to supervising a bustling shop.
  2. The employer. Companies have a legal duty to protect their employees under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act of 2007. Failure to comply with statutory regulations will leave businesses open to legal action from employees which could put a company’s reputation at stake.
  3. The property. If a lone worker is entrusted with keeping a premises secure, an injury or attack to their person will also place the protected property in jeopardy.

Luckily, there are ways to ward against dangers to workers, employers and property that arise from sub-standard lone worker protection. It’s important to take precautions, and there are a number of different measures that will reduce or eradicate risks to lone workers’ safety.



Risk Assessment for Lone Workers

Identifying potential risks in advance is an effective and preventative means by which to protect lone workers. Depending on the nature of employment, this may result in anything from evaluating the type of client the worker is likely to encounter, to going over existing incident reports looking for correlations.


Marking out possible hazards will help employers plan how to mitigate risk. The HSE suggest the following course of action for an average risk assessment:

  1. Identify the hazard
  2. Decide who might be harmed and how
  3. Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions
  4. Record significant findings
  5. Review the risk assessment

No risk assessment will be able to predict every possible danger or prevent each foreseeable hazard—but they can help to make sure that employers and workers are informed and prepared.


On-site Patrols

A highly effective way in which to protect lone workers is to provide them with company. At CMS Keyholding, experienced SIA-trained Key Guards can provide Mobile Patrols or Lock Up and Unlock Services, as well as making monthly, daily, or even hourly visits to a residential or commercial property.


These visits can ensure that an array of lone workers, whether operating alone from a fixed base (e.g. a shop or a petrol station) or separately from others within the same premises, might be offered backup and security.


Through such services, authorised and highly-trained security professionals will ensure that a business property is secure and that potentially vulnerable or exposed personnel are safe. As well as providing protection, Key Guards might alleviate pressure—providing services like unlocking and locking up commercial property at the beginning and end of each working day. Contact CMS Keyholding today to learn more on how your business can benefit


Staff Training

Some employers may consider providing relevant security training to their employees as an alternative. Conflict resolution training can help employees in a public-facing role to diffuse aggression in its early stages, and self-defence classes might arm lone workers to protect themselves if a situation escalates.


However, such combative preparation might deter people from accepting positions as lone workers, as it implies a high level of danger that people may want to avoid. Conflict resolution or self-defence training is a good precaution to take, but on their own they’re an insufficient way to address risk, putting too much onus on the employee themselves. Furthermore, such initiatives will prove quite costly and inflexible especially if you factor in employee turnover rates.


Personal Safety Devices

Personal safety devices or security smart phone applications are becoming a popular lone worker solution. This software can offer an SOS button as well as a man-down alert, as well as different features like listen-in services or automatic escalation when an alarm isn’t cancelled.


But, relying on employees being able to use an app or device if danger occurs can be a risky strategy. Violent crimes tend to preclude a victim’s ability to activate an alert. This means that, whilst a lone worker alarm app might have the capacity to offer security, in reality, it can’t guarantee protection.


There are various stages at which lone worker protection might be implemented. From an initial risk assessment, to a final alarm raised, it’s important that businesses are doing everything they can to ensure the safety of their employees. New technologies, like lone worker alarm devices, and comprehensive training programmes will equip a worker to deal with danger as it arises, but on-site patrols and security escorts by our highly-skilled Key Guards might prevent danger arising in the first place altogether. The key is to provide holistic security at every stage, taking precautionary and emergency measures and CMS Keyholding can help achieve exactly that in an effective and efficient manner Contact us today for more information.

by sarah