How to Ensure Lone Worker Safety & Protection

A male worker is wearing a safety harness clipped to a handrail

According to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), private industry employers reported 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses, a number that’s up 7.5% since the previous year.

A few of the most common risks that employees, including lone workers, are exposed to include:

  • Overexertion and bodily reaction
  • Contacts with objects and equipment
  • Falls, slips, and trips
  • Exposure to harmful substances or environments
  • Violence and other injuries by persons or animals

To prevent workplace injuries, OSHA developed a lone worker law, which states that “when an employee is working alone, such as in a confined space or isolated location, the employer shall account for each employee throughout each work shift at regular intervals appropriate to the job assignment to ensure the employee’s safety and health.”

Although OSHA doesn’t require employers to develop and implement a safety plan, many employers (with lone workers) often create them to reduce any risk of fatal or nonfatal injuries.

Developing a safety plan requires four steps: performing an on-site risk assessment, creating the actual policy based on the assessment, training employees, and implementing monitoring devices.

1. Perform an On-Site Risk Assessment

The person carrying out the risk assessment should have the necessary training, knowledge, and experience to identify potential risks and hazards. Qualified parties include health and safety officers, line managers or supervisors, external health and safety consultants like Archview Services, or a specialized risk assessment team.

During this assessment, the auditor evaluates not only general workplace hazards but also the specific types of hazards an employee is likely to be exposed to based on the work they’re being asked to do.

Examples of hazards could include physical (excessive noise, poor lighting, etc.), chemical, biological (bacteria, microbial agents, etc.), electrical, psychosocial, or environmental (extreme temperatures or poor air quality).

Generally, there are three risk categories for lone working:

  • People risks: Are there any people within the company who are more likely to be threatened?
  • Environmental: What about the workplace could threaten an employee’s personal safety?
  • Task-based: Which specific tasks increase an employee’s risk of injury?

When assessing, the auditor should group any hazards using these categories, outline individuals who might be harmed (and how), the procedures currently in place intended to prevent this risk, and any further steps that need to be taken to mitigate risk in the future.

2. Create a Lone Worker Safety Policy

Safety policies should include basic elements like mandated periodic check-ins and overtime alerting. Lone workers should regularly check in with designated employees to let everyone know they’re okay. If they will be working for longer hours than expected, an authority figure needs to be notified.

Other elements that can be included in a safety policy include:

  • Emergency alerting processes
  • Required use of communication and monitoring devices
  • Record-keeping instructions on employees’ locations
  • Workplace violence prevention strategies
  • How often risk assessments need to be performed for lone workers, and the process for assessing risks
  • Guidelines on how to report incidents and near misses
  • Procedures for accident investigation
  • How communication should be maintained when technology fails
  • Required training for lone workers and other employees

Once you create this plan, ensure you train your employees and develop guidelines on how often the plan should be reviewed and updated.

3. Train Your Employees

Investing in employee training is one of the most important steps to ensuring their safety. Given that every lone worker will be exposed to threats unique to their specific situation/worksite, you can’t expect someone to come into your organization already possessing the knowledge they need to remain protected at all times.

Employee training should include:

  • Emergency response
  • Search and rescue
  • First aid
  • Using protective gear
  • Fitting respirators
  • Using communication devices and monitoring equipment
  • General safety (which would involve going over the safety policy)
  • Workplace violence prevention

For more insight, read our Confined Space Entry Required Equipment & Training article.

4. Implement a Lone Worker Monitoring Solution

Blackline Safety's G7 lone worker device

Lastly, monitoring devices make location tracking easier.

At Archview Services, we recommend Blackline Safety’s G7 Lone Worker device. It has built-in cellular connectivity (with optional satellite), so you always stay connected to a lone worker, even in remote or otherwise hard-to-access locations. Workers can send an instant cry for help should anything go wrong.

This device features automatic alerts to detect when an employee is motionless or has fallen, and time-based alerts for missed check-ins. The G7 also includes an emergency SOS latch that generates an instantly visible and audible alarm to alert monitoring personnel when something has gone wrong.

How Archview Services Can Help

We’re dedicated to helping you maintain a safe environment for your employees. We offer many services, including risk assessments and extensive on-site and off-site training for first aid, PPE, general safety, and more. We also sell and lease confined space entry equipment and gear, including Blackline Safety’s G7.

Additionally, if you already have a safety plan, our team can help you review and suggest any modifications or improvements to ensure OSHA compliance.

Request a Consultation Today

If you need help ensuring lone worker safety for your business, fill out our online form today to schedule a consultation with one of our experts.