What is a lone worker?

The health and safety executive (HSE) define a lone worker as:

“Those who work by themselves without close or direct supervision, either employees who work separately from others in an establishment or mobile workers who work away from a fixed base.”


•Employees who may be classed as Lone Workers include the following:

•Caretakers with the responsibility of opening and closing a building.

•Staff working outside of normal hours.

•Cleaning staff.

•Staff working in an isolated part of a building.

•School staff working during holiday periods.

A lone worker is not just someone who is staying late, or coming in at the weekend, but can be someone working when others are in the same building, but some distance away, out of immediate contact.

If there is potential for an accident to occur particularly if the worker will not be able to raise the alarm or be found quickly, then appropriate precautions must be taken as if they are a lone worker.

Tasks Prohibited When Working Alone

Below is an example of some tasks that cannot be carried out when working alone. A risk assessment must be carried out to establish if the work can go ahead.

•Work at Height.

•Work underground.

•Work on electrical, gas or plumbing systems.

•Work involving chemicals/dangerous substances, or the transport thereof.

•Work involving excavations or areas likely to cause a landslip or cave in.

•Work using ladders.

What responsibilities do lone workers have?

The employer holds the main responsibility but, lone workers also have a responsibility to help their employer fulfill this duty, here are some examples:

•Take reasonable care to look after their own safety and health.

•Co-operate with their employer’s safety and health procedure.

•Safeguard the safety and health of other people affected by their work.

•Not misuse equipment provided for their safety and health.

•Report all accidents, injuries, near-misses and other dangerous occurrences.

•Use tools and other equipment properly, in accordance with any relevant safety instructions and training they have been given.

You can learn even more by visiting the MyTeamSafe website at http://bit.ly/what-is-lone-working – you can try our lone working solution free for 30 days, with text (SMS), email and push notifications.

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New TUC guide highlights gender divide in workplace risks

The national trade union centre in the UK (The TUC) has recently published a guide for union safety reps that highlights the necessity to take gender differences into account when identifying health and safety concerns at work.

The guide says that men and women have physical, physiological and psychological differences that can determine how risks affect them.
Additionally, the guide stresses that women are at particular risk of violence, harassment and bullying both in and outside the workplace.

Although men tend to be at greater risk of direct physical assault because they are more likely to be found in jobs such as security and the prison service, women are also found in many of the occupations with a high-risk of violence and threats of violence, working as social workers and health-care workers. In addition, women are also more likely than men to experience sexual harassment at work.
Also women’s more typical injuries and illnesses, such as work-related stress, musculoskeletal disorders and dermatitis, have received less attention.
The guide also points to gender difference in the experience of stress, where HSE figures suggests that almost half a million people suffer from it at any one time, but more than half are female.
The guide says this because women frequently work in professions that have a high risk of stress, such as health and social care, social work and education. It cites research showing that women’s stress levels are more likely to remain high after work, particularly if they have children at home.
What is more, the handbook provides a checklist for trade union representatives, including questions about whether sex and gender differences are taken into account in manual handling risk assessments.



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