If you have staff members who work remotely or in isolation, you should know both your moral and legal requirements when it comes to ensuring their safety. Not only do you need to have an effective communications system in place, you will need to ensure that your lone workers can trigger a panic alarm at any time of the day or night and receive immediate help.
Lone Worker Guidance Updated
According to this article by the HSE, a significant conference event took place on the 15th of October 2019 by which there was a ‘welcomed review of the Lone Worker Guidance produced by the HSE’. Let’s explore this in further detail.
A Lone Worker Explained
Lone workers are staff members who work in isolation, on their own or remotely. Typically, they do not have access to other members of staff all of the time and are very often carrying out their work duties on their own.
There is crime all over but we have heard of specific safety incidents involving lone workers who have encountered threats while working alone, whether that be physical or verbal threats. It is essential that all lone workers have the ability to make instant contact with security teams, other staff or support teams at any time.
In this day and age (especially since the Covid-19 pandemic), the way in which employees work has changed dramatically compared to 10 years ago. As crime evolves and criminals take more chances, so the need for state of the art lone worker security devices increases.
How did the need for changing the lone worker guidance come about?
According to the HSE head of vulnerable workers, Barbara Hockey, “Lone Workers make up an increasing and important part of the workforce, within a range of roles and sectors. Although there are no specific regulations relating to lone workers the HSE has always recognised that this group of workers can be at higher risk”.
It was stated that the need to review the procedures and guidelines around lone workers was prompted due to the vast increase in the number of lone workers, the type of work required as well as the vulnerability of staff working in isolation.
Barbara explained how she then went back to her team to review the initial guidance provided by the HSE with a new vision of updating the systems and making lone working safer and more efficient. Shortly after the initial review into the guidance, various sector authorities and industry-specific companies were brought in to work with the HSE in updating the lone worker guidance. This included:
Trade unions and trade bodies, SME, large companies as well as industry-specific contacts.
These entities were brought in to share light into what it is like to work in a lone worker environment as well as all issues or inconveniences lone workers were facing on a daily basis. According to companies who have lone workers, the changes in technology have played a huge factor in how lone working has evolved over the years.
Traditional work environments change
Pre the Covid-19 pandemic at the end of 2019 and early 2020, traditional working environments were already changing. The amount of job openings which offer more remote working and working online increased drastically. This increase was obviously exponential during the lockdown face around the world due to the Coronavirus and it has not impacted how companies function and hire staff going forward.
With roughly a minimum of 3 million ‘gig’ workers or remote workers operating around the world, the need to ensure sufficient measure of safety and accountability for lone workers became imperative.
Workers were speaking out about physical stress, mental health issues and fear of safety when not equipped with the correct safety systems and panic alarms. In particular, workers in the lower-income brackets expressed how vulnerable they were with bad health and safety conditions.
What has changed?
One of the most prominent changes in the lone worker safety guidance was outlining how older workers are far more vulnerable to worse damage and longer impacts of accidents on criminal activity at work. Research states that in todays day and age, roughly 72% of workers are aged over 50 years of age. This also means that there will be more of a negative effect in physical deterioration due to older staff members.
Mental health and wellness have also been a significant focus in the change. The revised communication on the revised lone worker guidance will be in various forms with the two most significant to be in the form of both websites and webpages as well as leaflets. When asked about the communication updates, Barbara stated:
“We have restructured the leaflet to take into account those gaps that we identified. The way the world of work has changed is included, as is the impact on mental health and wellbeing and also a section on work-related violence. But we’ve also included some other parts about where and how people are working and much more information about how you can control the risks”.
For comprehensive lone worker panic alarms and safety solutions, speak to our consultants today.