Let's go!

Blog: Improving Health and Safety With Lone Worker Solutions       Published: 25/01/2022

Improving Health and Safety With Lone Worker Solutions 

A ‘lone worker’ is classified as an employee who, although they may be part of a broader team, commonly works away from direct contact with his or her colleagues for extended periods. Examples of this include security staff, cleaning/facilities personnel, forklift drivers, warehouse operatives, healthcare workers, many shift workers and call centre personnel in all industries. During a typical shift, a lone worker may have minimal or no contact with their supervisor or colleagues for hours at a time, so if an accident, emergency, or security incident happens, no alarm may be raised until it is too late.

What are the risks faced by lone workers?

The hazards faced by lone workers depend very much on their occupation. Warehouse workers, for instance, might be at risk of slips and trips, or of falling if working at height, while security guards might be at risk of assault from an intruder. People are at greater risk of a mishap when working alone because there is no one else there to ‘watch their back’, and the risk level is even higher when people are tired (as in night shift work), or not able to focus on their own safety for other reasons.

In addition, the risk of serious injury should any hazard occur is amplified when working alone, as the person may have to wait far longer for medical assistance than they would if they were accompanied.

Even safe working environments, such as out of hours call centres, carry risks for lone workers. Medical emergencies, for example – including life-threatening conditions such as heart attacks and strokes – may go unreported, while lone workers are also more vulnerable to physical attack and theft than people accompanied by colleagues.

Lone workers, perhaps obviously, are also at greater risk of loneliness than employees who work as a team. Even people who enjoy and thrive working on their own are more susceptible to work-based stress than team workers and may be at higher risk of a range of mental health problems, including depression and anxiety.

How to improve health and safety for your lone workers

There are several steps that a business can take to improve the safe working environment for their lone workers. These include:

  • Safety and awareness training for lone working – including how to be more risk-aware and mindful to avoid common mishaps
  • Installing CCTV to monitor and support lone workers
  • Providing a confidential helpline to an on-call supervisor through which the lone worker can report any concerns
  • Requiring the worker to check-in with a supervisor or automated system at set intervals, e.g. every 30 minutes
  • Reduce the time spent by people working on their own, e.g. by varying lone working sessions with time spent with colleagues, or shortening shift rotation times
  • Providing mental health support for lone workers and monitoring employees for signs of stress, withdrawal, and low productivity.

These are all good long-term strategies for improving employee happiness and safety, but they are not always effective at preventing or responding to accidents and emergencies. For this, your lone worker needs an immediate and reliable means of calling for help, and of signalling for help even if they are unconscious or incapacitated in some way.

Lone worker digital radio systems

The best way of ensuring moment by moment safety for your lone workers is to equip them with a two-way radio system with inbuilt lone worker safeguards. Two-way radio systems are more reliable than mobile phones and landlines because they are not dependent on the vagaries of cellular networks, and all it takes is for someone to press a single button to send out a distress call.

Furthermore, many lone worker radios have a ‘person down’ feature that sends an immediate alert if the receiver changes orientation unexpectedly – this could indicate that the person has slipped and is unconscious. Alarms can also be automated if a lone worker does not check-in at the expected time, allowing a call or visit to be made.

When used in conjunction with secure access systems, CCTV, and training, a digital radio system can significantly increase health and safety for lone workers and reduce workplace stress and anxiety.

Find out more

To find out more about our digital radio systems and how they can help your lone workers, please have a chat with one of our communication specialists today.