2020 is going to be a banner year for safety. In particular, safety for those that work alone. The rise of lone workers this year is undeniable as we work towards safer workplaces in the office and out in the field.
Last year, we recognized this trend and decided to help by offering up our work alone policy template to fellow safety professionals for free. Today, we’re going to examine what it takes to make your lone worker policy bulletproof — and you can download it for free as well.
Lone Worker Risk Assessment
Risk assessments look a little bit different for lone workers. We have to pay close attention to local OHS authority requirements who will often stipulate that simply having a lone worker policy and risk assessment isn’t enough. You will be required to document proof of compliance with your policy and of having completed a lone worker risk assessment in order to be fully compliant. This infographic outlines a great process for your team to begin using immediately. Just be sure to check with your local OHS authority on their specific regulations.
To see each individual province or state requirements, check out this link.
Work Alone Escalation Procedures
Your lone worker policy does much more than simply help you assess the risks each worker faces, it will also help you establish an escalation procedure. An escalation procedure will ensure that you and your team react to incidents swiftly, professionally, and in an organized manner minimizing harm to your employee and assets.
Your lone worker escalation process is really where the advice of an unbiased adviser becomes priceless. You can use free work alone policy templates like this one to begin your journey to compliance and learn to mitigate risk, but when an emergency occurs you don’t want to be left second guessing the next steps.
Valuable advice from people who have been there before, seen every scenario, and learned from years of experience will make you more confident in the lone worker systems you put in place. Even with your new work alone procedures in place, accidents still happen and that’s why it’s important to have a professional response. A true emergency response centre can alleviate all worries about escalation procedures and 24/7 monitoring.
Work Alone Monitoring
The first steps are complete and you’re on your way to a safer environment for lone workers. Now you need to find somebody in your organization that can monitor your lone workers during every hour they are working.
Monitoring can be done in-house, but it is very time consuming and requires a 24/7 watchful eye. Anytime a lone worker is deployed, there must be somebody responsible for being at the helm in case of a missed check-in, or worse, a distress call. The party monitoring them needs to know exactly which escalation procedure to follow, which authorities to contact, and how to keep their cool.
Another considerable aspect of monitoring is record keeping. If an accident occurs and your organization follows all the rules, but doesn’t document everything can still be held liable.
Third party monitoring services allow organizations to focus on their core competencies and lifts the burden of monitoring around the clock from busy supervisors.
Here at Telelink, monitoring is one of our specialties. We have a dedicated team of trained specialists that know how to react when an incident occurs.
Communication Requirements For Lone Workers
Most Health and Safety authorities include communication requirements as part of their directives on working alone. To be compliant, you must ensure whenever your employees are working alone that they always have a means of signalling distress with an outside party. Some authorities go as far as requiring two-way communication. That means that no matter where your lone workers go – in the field, in a basement, or in a foreign country, they have to be able to get in touch with somebody that can help in the event of an emergency at all times.
Communication requirements depend heavily on the context of the type of job your lone workers are tasked with.
Working Alone Scenarios
Lone workers are not like big yellow poncho’s you put on when a baseball game gets rained out. That is, one size does not fit all. Instead, lone workers are like the roster you put in the field. The team wears the same uniform, but your second baseman is wearing a different glove than the catcher. They aren’t wearing different types of gloves just for show, it’s because they play different roles and face very different scenarios.
So when you think about lone workers in your organization, think of a baseball team. Sure they’re all playing the same sport, but they all need unique gear to match their unique needs.
Specific Lone Worker Needs
Do your lone workers travel outside of cell range? They might need a satellite device. How about smartphones? There’s an app for that. At risk of falling and need man down detection? These are the questions you must ask to truly gain insight into the communication requirements of your lone workers.
Use this decision tree to gauge which type of communication technology is going to work best for your team.
Apart from the different scenarios an employee might find themselves in, think about what kind of device would be appropriate for the situation. A parole officer, for example, might not have time to pull out his or her phone in an escalated situation and may have to rely on a panic button located somewhere they can push in an instant.
Work Alone Technology
As we can see from the above decision tree, the situations your lone workers find themselves in heavily influence the type of technology they require. But it doesn’t stop there. Technology in this field is rapidly improving making it more accessible and cost-effective.
Man down alarms and devices that can detect falls are becoming increasingly popular. Wearables are coming onto the scene, and we haven’t even begun to talk about apps yet.
For companies where smartphones are standard issue, apps are a very cost-effective and easy-to-implement solution. Our experience has shown that app-based solutions tend to drive better user adoption as well.
With all these options on the table, it’s best to consult an unbiased advisor that specializes in designing and sourcing lone worker technology. Speak with someone who will know the pros and cons of what is on the market and help you make the right decision for your organization.
Work Alone Requirements by Law
By law, employers have a responsibility to protect their workers regardless of whether they’re surrounded by colleagues or alone on an assignment. Getting your work alone policy in place and beginning to foster a culture of safety is step one. If you need help getting off on the right foot there are resources such as Telelink ready to help you.
Download your lone worker policy template here and put your company on the right track for lone worker safety.