Guide to lone working policies

An informative guide to policies and procedures for employers or managers of lone workers.

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  • Lone working policy
  • How to create a lone working policy statement
  • Industry Policies
  • Lone working procedures & checklists

Lone workers require their own policies and procedures to ensure they are protected from any lone worker risks and hazards. This guide aims to explain what a lone working policy is, what to include in your lone worker policy and how to go about creating one.

Lone working policy

Following on from your risk assessment, you will need to produce a safety policy for your lone workers. A lone working safety policy is a guide that will set out your companies’ rules on working alone and help your employees to understand the risks they may face.

Ultimately, your policy should aim to provide lone workers with practical advice and instruction on how to safely work alone.

How to create a simple lone working policy

Your lone working policy will be developed as an extension to your lone working risk assessment. The policy document will include your risk assessment and the procedures you have put in place to reduce or eliminate the identified risks.

What to include in your lone working policy?

You should include the following in your lone working policy;

Lone working policy statement

A lone working policy statement is made up of one or two paragraphs outlining the organisations dedication to meeting their legal requirements.

A definition of lone working

You must be clear on when you consider your employees to be lone working, so they know when the policy applies to them. For example, do you consider those working late in the office alone to be lone working or does your policy only refer to those leaving the office to carry out home visits?

Your lone worker risk assessment

Set out a list of the risks identified as part of your risk assessment and break them down by job role, location and lone worker type. If you have a number of lone workers carrying out different roles, you should consider writing several policies. This will help your employees to better understand the risks relevant to them and avoid having to read through irrelevant information.

The procedures and measures you have put in place

If it important for your employees to know what actions you have taken to reduce risk and what is expected of them. While you should provide briefs and training on the procedures your lone workers need to follow, the policy is a good place for them to refer to.

The purpose of the lone working safety policy

This section provides an opportunity to let your employees know you care about their safety. The focus here should be on the benefits to their wellbeing rather than your own benefits or legal requirements. Placing emphasis on safety and wellbeing will help to encourage compliance.

The responsibilities of each employee including management and the lone workers

In order for procedures and systems to work, each employee involved must be aware of their responsibilities. Be clear on which responsibilities lie on the lone worker and which lie on their supervisor.

How to report on hazards or incidents

Outline how and when your employees are expected to report a hazard or incident. Is it the lone worker’s responsibility or that of a health and safety representative? Do they need to fill out a form or do you have an online portal for reporting?

Additional help and support

You should consider including additional information on who employees can contact if they have any concerns or require additional support. This may include any health and safety representatives within the organisation, as well as external agencies, charities or support groups.

How to create a lone working policy statement

Your lone working policy will be influenced by the risks identified and the procedures put in place to reduce or eliminate the risks. We have created an example of a lone working policy below. Please note that this is a brief example and you should expect to identify a more extensive list of potential risks.

Tips for creating your lone working policy

Creating your lone working policy is an important task and we understand that sometimes it can seem daunting. Getting your lone workers on board is perhaps the greatest challenge which is why we have put together these tips for creating your lone working policy.

Keep it simple

To ensure your lone workers understand and follow your policy, you should keep it as concise and simple as possible. Use language they would understand and outline what is expected of them as clearly as possible.

Clarity is important for the layout of the document as well as the language used.

Update regularly

It is important that your policy is regularly updated whenever you risk assessment is re assessed or whenever you introduce new lone working policies such as a new training course or implement a lone worker device.

Involve your lone workers

In order to get your lone workers on board with your new policy, you should consider involving them in all aspects of the process. Ask them to help you identify risks and suggest ways they would feel safer.

Once your lone working policy has been developed, consider holding a workshop or health and safety day where you can openly discuss why you have developed the policy and what has been put in place. Be sure to focus on a clear safety message and the benefits to your lone workers.

Be direct

While you want to encourage adoption through focusing on employee safety and wellbeing, you also need your employees to understand that the policies and procedures you have implemented are a requirement and non-optional.

Be direct in the language you use in your lone working policy. Avoid using words such as ‘you should’ or ‘you could’ which suggests a choice. Use ‘You must’ or ‘It is a requirement that…’

Lone working procedures & checklists

To help you understand what a working alone safety procedure is, we outline some examples below as well as providing a checklist of questions you can ask yourself to get started.

Lone working procedures

A lone worker procedure refers to a series of steps that need to be followed in order to work alone safely. You may find it useful to write a number of procedures suitable for different groups of employees so that they are able to digest the correct information easily.

Some examples of procedures which should be developed for lone working include;

  • How the lone worker should check-in with their supervisor and how often
  • How and when to use any lone worker devices
  • What to do in an emergency including evacuation procedures and who to contact
  • What to do when a client shows signs of aggression
  • What to do when unauthorised visitors attempt to enter a building where the employee is working alone

This is not an exhaustive list and there are many more scenarios that will require a lone worker procedure. However, implementing as many procedures as is necessary can save lives. This is why it is important that your procedures are made compulsory and you avoid any language that could suggest a choice such as ‘you should’ or ‘you could’.

When first introducing new work alone procedures, it is important to provide briefing and training for your lone workers so that they know exactly what is expected of them. A written step-by-step guide should be distributed for them to refer to and it may be helpful to produce a safety checklist for your lone workers to follow until procedures become routine.

Lone working risk assessment checklist

When managing the safety of your lone workers, there are a number of factors you will need to take into consideration. These factors will vary considerably depending on your organisation, location and lone worker job functions. However, there are some basics that always need to be covered.

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