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The Health and Safety Executive defines lone workers as ‘those who work by themselves without close or direct supervision’. There are many situations where staff work alone both on site and off site. 

These include on-site lone working activities like staff who work separately from others, for example, reception staff, staff who interview service users, staff who work in isolated areas, shops or offices.

Other examples include:

  • Workers involved in construction
  • Plant installation
  • Maintenance and cleaning work
  • Electrical repairs
  • Lift repairs
  • Painting and decorating
  • Vehicle recovery
  • Agricultural and forestry workers
  • Service workers for such as rent collectors
  • Postal staff
  • Social workers
  • Home helps, doctors, district nurses
  • Pest control workers
  • Drivers
  • Engineers, architects, estate agents and sales representatives and similar professionals visiting domestic and commercial premises.

It also covers staff who work outside of normal hours, for example, out of hours staff; caretakers; security workers carrying out lone working activities like undertaking home visiting; staff who travel between workplaces and other off-site locations; home working and or out of hours social work teams. However, someone who works in a busy office or factory can become a lone worker when travelling for work purposes, working late or working from home.

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974: Section 2 sets out a duty of care on employers to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their employees whilst they are at work.

The Management of Health and Safety at work Regulations 1999: Regulation 3, states that every employer shall make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to the health and safety of his employees to which they are exposed whilst they are at work and working away from their main workplace.

There are legal duties imposed on duty holders, towards lone workers under some of the obligations enacted by the Health and Safety at work act 1974 and the management of health and safety at work regulations 1999.  Where possible the need for lone working should be eliminated. However, where this is not practicable units/ divisions must assess any risk attributed to the lone worker and devise and implement appropriate procedures and protocols to minimise this risk. This must be supported by relevant training and monitoring arrangements.