GPS watch for Loneworkers

What is a lone worker?

Lone workers are people who work without close supervision or by themselves. Lone workers range from security, nursing, maintenance and care workers through to field sales people and those working alone in workshops and factories.

Your responsibility as an employer.

As an employer you are legally responsible for the health and safety of all your workers. The law requires you to have run risk assessments for people working alone, making sure they are adequately protected from any health and safety risks. Being a lone worker should not put them at any more risk than other employees.

Lone workers in the UK

The UK working population numbers 31 million people and almost 7 million are considered lone workers, a number that is undoubtedly increasing driven by advances in wireless communications technology and the rising cost of real estate forcing organisations to reduce their office space.

In fact, in the last few years, the world of work has changed almost beyond recognition, and the lone worker demographic is shifting too, with traditional office-based workers increasingly spending more of their time working alone. These days, work can be done, alone, from just about anywhere: from a home office, on a train while travelling to a client meeting or even in a local coffee shop.

The increase in employees working away from their traditional office based environments is generally regarded as a positive step; but it is worth noting that an employer’s Duty of Care still applies and includes staff working from home during contracted hours. While research suggests that many lone workers are more productive and happier than their office-based counterparts, employers face real challenges to ensure employees’ safety,especially given the stark threats.

There were an estimated 649,000 incidents of violence at work according to the 2012/13 British Crime Survey, comprising 332,000 assaults and 317,000 threats. In 2012/13 148 people were killed in the course of their work. Of course, not all the incidents involved lone working, but isolation can increase the risks to workers’ safety and security.

Risks of Lone Working

Despite there being no single definition that encompasses those who may face lone working situations, it’s generally accepted that these people face increased risks to their safety and security.

The three main risks are: violence and aggression (physical and verbal), often from the very people the workers are trying to help; occupational risks (such as slips, trips, falls, electrocution); and personal wellbeing risks, including health issues caused by a known medical condition or brought about by being in stressful situations.

The risks are different for each group of workers. Public sector staff, transport staff and retail workers face threats of abuse or violence from members of the public (more than one in three working alone in the community has been assaulted or harassed in the last two years, according to research from the Royal College of Nursing). Other employees such as shop workers, security staff or warehouse workers might in addition be at further danger from the risk of robbery. An engineer,
construction worker or maintenance staff are at risk of an incident occurring by an accident or an underlying medical condition while working alone. And people working from home might suffer the psychological effects of loneliness and isolation.

An injury or illness can be disastrous for the individual and for the organisation. Employees can suffer serious physical and mental repercussions, while the employer can be impacted through staff retention and recruitment costs; increased absenteeism through sickness; low productivity; litigation against the organisation; and negative publicity.

What is a lone working device?

“A lone work device (LWD)/lone worker application (LWA) encourages and forms part of an LW dynamic risk assessment. In the event of an incident, it enables the LW to transmit their identity and location easily and discreetly in order to request assistance when they feel threatened or at risk.

Our device is a watch worn discreetly on the wrist that can call for help silently and our monitoring centre can listen in to see if the user if at risk and needs assistance. A timer can also be set on the device after countdown to alert our centre that there is a problem and the user has not checked in in the agreed timeframe. The watch alerts us when the timer is set and provides a footprint location if the user does not cancel the timer before it’s end it will alert our centre and assistance will be called.

“Providing for the safety and security of Lone Workers can lead to greater productivity and better retention through increased protection for the Lone Worker. It also provides improved protection for the organisation against H&S and Corporate Manslaughter legislation. Incorporating effective policies and procedures into an organisation’s daily operations is the most effective way of achieving such protection.”