What are the risks of working alone?
Last week, we spotted a question from a safety professional regarding how to improve lone workers’ safety. This time, we will provide a short overview of the risks of working alone and share useful recommendations you can implement in your safety program.
Lone workers are people who work by themselves without close supervision, in isolation from other workers. Farmworkers, salesmen, nurses, hotel housekeeping staff, social workers, educational professionals, transportation workers, and real estate agents are some examples of people who work alone commonly.
Due to the way these workers perform their activities, lone workers can be exposed to different situations that put their safety at risk, even more, because nobody sees them if they have an emergency. For instance, depending on the work environment conditions, workers in construction working at heights and workers in hospitality can experience falls, slips, and trips whereas real estate agents, nurses, and housekeeping staff can face other threats such as robbery, physical assault, or sexual assault.
In fact, the NSC marks that every year millions of American workers report having been victims of workplace violence, especially in the healthcare, education, and service provider industries. In 2018, assaults resulted in 20,790 injuries and 453 fatalities.
According to our findings, there is no OSHA legislation that incorporates lone working officially in the US as in other countries like the UK and Canada. However, employers have the duty of providing a safe workplace free from recognized hazards that can cause potential harm to employees.
If your organization is mostly formed by employees who work alone, we share with you some useful steps you can take to protect lone workers safely.
Identify the hazards
As we previously mentioned, working alone can be risky when employees are working in isolated spaces without supervision. Although risks include environmental conditions, acts of violence, or workers’ health conditions, you have to consider that they are not always visible. Depending on the job activity, try to define all the situations that can put your employees at risk during the working day.
Train employees properly
In addition to training employees on how to use machinery, equipment, PPE, or first aid, it is crucial that they are trained about the potential hazards they can face while working and the protocols they should follow in different situations of danger. In this sense, employees will feel more prepared to handle any situation quickly.
Supervise employees when possible
Another measure to protect employees who work by themselves is providing some level of supervision by sending employees with a coworker or organizing supervision routines to observe people working isolated. Many organizations supervise employees by using radios or telephones frequently.
Provide safety devices to your employees
Nowadays, different organizations have opted for technological solutions like wearable devices as an extra measure to protect lone workers. Safety devices allow supervisors to maintain contact between workers as well as track workers’ locations and raise an alarm in case of an emergency. When it comes to lone workers, time is crucial because there is a huge gap between prevention and experiencing an accident.
With Kwema’s safety wearables, lone workers can quickly activate an emergency protocol, maximizing response time, and containing any escalation. In just 3 seconds, they can ask for help alerting safety supervisors and 911 when they are in danger. Moreover, our wearables can be placed in things that your employees already wear, making their adoption easy and avoiding training costs.