RISKS OF LONE WORKING FOR CONTRACTORS, REMOTE EMPLOYEES AND MANUAL WORKERS

remote worker

“Lone workers are those who work by themselves without close or direct supervision. Anybody who works alone, including contractors, self-employed people, and employees, is classed as a lone worker,” according to Health and Safety Authority, the national statutory body for ensuring worker safety in Ireland.

You are categorized as a lone worker if you:
  • Are the only worker in a premise like a store, small workshop, or as a home assistant;
  • Work separately from others in places like playgrounds, event centers, and so on;
  • Have a remote job or work-from-home; or
  • Work in transit.

With the recent rise in jobs that allow you to work from home or at your own convenience, the risks of these types of roles are also on the rise, as more and more people are beginning to identify as lone workers. Some of the risks that could be experienced by a lone worker while carrying out their jobs include:
  • Inadequate provision of rest, hygiene and welfare facilities due to irregular work schedule;
  • Sudden illnesses, accidents and/or other emergencies due to non-provision of first aid;
  • Violence, threats or abuse from the public and/or intruders;
  • Theft arising from the absence of security; and
  • Driving-related incidents, for those who work in transit.

Nevertheless, these risks can be mitigated by the employer of such lone workers by doing the following:
  • Assess areas of possible risk including the medical suitability of the individual for lone work;
  • Create communication channels to adequately and frequently check in on your lone worker for their safety;
  • Plan to train lone workers on ways to carry out their job while keeping their safety in check;
  • Implement correct incident report procedures;
  • Carry out periodic checks and risk assessment; and
  • Implement Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
remote worker
On the other end of lone workers, they should do take the following tips into consideration:
  • If you work in transit, let people know your whereabouts, and carry a personal alarm or ask your employer to make provision for it;
  • Do your own risk assessment to be aware of possible risks you may encounter;
  • Follow relevant safety guidelines, and go through training, or ask your employer to provide for it;
  • Don’t take unnecessary risks that could put you in harm’s way;
  • Always trust your instinct and know when to reach out for help;
  • Follow regular communication procedure, and report all incidents or near misses; and
  • Don’t be afraid to raise personal concerns or observations about any safety issue.
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