Lone Working Copy

Lone Worker

A Lone Worker may be described as anyone who works alone or without any close or direct supervision. Including contractors, self-employed people and employee, is classed as a lone worker.

Lone workers include:

  • people in fixed establishments where only one person works on the premises, e.g. in small workshops, kiosks, petrol stations, shops and home-workers.
  • people work separately from others, e.g. in factories, warehouses, some research and training establishments, leisure centres or fairgrounds.
  • people who work outside normal hours, e.g. cleaners, security, special production, maintenance or repair staff, etc.
  • people who work working away from their fixed base, e.g.  on construction, plant installation, maintenance and cleaning work, electrical repairs, lift repairs, painting and decorating, vehicle recovery, etc.
  • agricultural and forestry workers.
  • service workers, e.g. rent collectors, postal staff, social workers, home helps, district nurses, pest control workers, drivers, engineers, architects, estate agents, sales representatives and similar professionals visiting domestic and commercial premises.


Is Lone Working Legal

  • Yes. There is nothing specific in general legislation that prohibits a person from working alone. But it still needs to be assessed.
  • Section 19 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 requires the employer to undertake a risk assessment, and so this shall determine whether or not an employee may work alone. Therefore, in general, an employer must assess whether an employee is at significantly higher risk when working alone.
  • However, employers must be aware of any specific legislation on lone working, which may be applicable to their specific industry, e.g. supervision in diving operations, vehicles carrying explosives.
  • The time working alone should be minimised as much as possible.


Employers Duty:




Lone Workers Duty’s:

Lone Working Responsibilities

The employer holds the main responsibility for protecting the safety and health of lone workers. Nonetheless, lone workers themselves have a responsibility to help their employer fulfil this duty, and so they must:

  • Take reasonable care to look after their own safety and health
  • Safeguard the safety and health of other people affected by their work
  • Co-operate with their employer’s safety and health procedures
  • Use tools and other equipment properly, in accordance with any relevant safety instructions and training they have been given
  • Not misuse equipment provided for their safety and health
  • Report all accidents, injuries, near-misses and other dangerous occurrences


What needs to be done:




Policy on Lone Working

The policy sets the standards for lone worker safety:

  • Live document
  • Reference document
  • Guideline for judging relevant activity
  • Used to brief staff


Safety Statement

Reminds staff of the potential risks associated with lone working, the required procedures they are to follow and to report to their managers if they have any problems.






Risk Assessment

            • The outcome of this assessment that will determine if employee may work alone
            • Thorough risk assessment leads to good controls.







Lone Working Hazards

Hazards that lone workers may encounter include:

            • accidents or emergencies arising out of the work, including inadequate provision of first aid
            • sudden illnesses
            • inadequate provision of rest, hygiene and welfare facilities
            • physical violence from members of the public and/or intruders



 If the risk assessment shows that it is not possible for the work to be carried out safely by a lone worker

If the risk assessment shows that it is not possible for the work to be done safely by a lone worker, arrangements for providing help or backup should be put in place. Where a lone worker is working at another employer’s workplace, that employer should inform the lone worker’s employer of any risks and the control measures to be taken. This also helps the lone worker’s employer to assess the risks.


Control measures  to minimise the risk to lone workers

The risk assessment should prescribe control measures to be implemented in order to eliminate/minimise the identified risks. Such control measures may include:

  • communication is very important: always have your mobile phone, telephone or radio
  • controlled periodic checks
  • automatic warning devices, e.g. panic alarms, no movement alarms, automatic distress message systems, i.e. pre recorded message sent if not actively cancelled by operative, etc.
  • instruction and training in proper procedures, e.g. code words for potentially violent situations  when combined with mobile phone communication.
  • use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • health surveillance
  • first-aid kits and training
  • implementing Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s)
  • locking and securing place of work
  • implementing correct incident reporting procedures
  • provision of counselling


What controls benefit the Lone Worker

  • SOPs
  • Securing Place of Work
  • Instruction and Training
  • Communication
  • Periodic Checking
  • Personal Alarms
  • PPE
  • First Aid Training
  • Health Surveillance
  • Reporting Procedures
  • Provision of Counselling
  • Self Defense


Lone Worker Competency

Training for Lone Workers


Are Lone Workers fit to Work Alone?

Have you?

  • Asked
  • Assessed
  • Considered emergencies
Medical Conditions
  • Is the person fit to carry out the work involved?
  • Any medical condition that might make them unsuitable?
  • Consider mental stress as well as the physical issues.
  • No lone working if medically unfit to carry out the work.
Disadvantaged Groups

Lone working should not put the worker at greater risk. Consider:

  • Older people
  • Women
  • Young people
  • Other disadvantaged people

The ultimate safety of the Lone Worker will always take precedence over the need to get the job done.


Monitoring & Supervision

  • Do supervisors visit regularly or at all?
  • Does the system require the lone worker to check in?
  • Do lone workers have a safety partner or personal attack alarms?

How will the Lone Worker be Supervised

  • Impossible to constantly supervision
  • Is supervisor available by phone? When?
  • Are site visits possible?
  • Be wary of “Out of sight, out of mind”
  • Be wary of social isolation

Can a Lone Worker Control Risks

  • Does the workplace present undue risk?
  • Is there safe access and egress for one person?
  • Is the Lone Worker opening/locking the premises or site?
  • Can any plant, materials or substances that need to be handled, be done so safely by one person?
  • Are they handling or transporting money or valuables?
  • Is there a risk of threat, aggression or violence?

What are Safe Arrangements

Live Risk Assessment

The 5 “Wh”



 Planning Safe Working Arrangements for Lone Workers

When establishing safe working arrangements for lone workers, employers need to know the law and standards that may apply to their specific work activity. They must then assess if the requirements of that work activity can be met by people working alone. Issues that need to be addressed when planning such safe working arrangements are:

1. Can the risks of the job be adequately controlled by one person?

Lone workers should not be at more risk than other employees. This may require extra risk control measures. Precautions should take account of normal work and foreseeable emergencies, e.g. fire, equipment failure, illness and accidents. Employers should identify situations where people work alone and ask questions such as:

  • Does the workplace present a special risk to the lone worker?
  • Is there a safe way in and a way out for one person? Can any temporary access equipment that is necessary, such as portable ladders or trestles, be safely handled by one person?
  • Can all the plant, substances and goods involved in the work be safely handled by one person? Consider whether the work involves lifting objects too large for one person or whether more than one person is needed to operate essential controls for the safe running of equipment.
  • Is there a risk of violence?
  • Are women especially at risk if they work alone?
  • Are young workers especially at risk if they work alone?

2. Is the person medically fit and suitable to work alone?

Check that lone workers have no medical conditions which may make them unsuitable for working alone. Seek medical advice if necessary. Consider both routine work and foreseeable emergencies, which may impose additional physical and mental burdens on the individual.

3. What training is required to ensure competency in safety matters?

Training is particularly important where there is limited supervision to control, guide and help in situations of uncertainty. Training may be critical to avoid panic reactions in unusual situations. Lone workers need to be sufficiently experienced and to understand the risks and precautions fully. Employers should set the limits to what can and cannot be done while working alone. They should ensure employees are competent to deal with circumstances that are new, unusual or beyond the scope of training, e.g. when to stop work and seek advice from a supervisor and how to handle aggression.

4. How will the person be supervised?

Although lone workers cannot be subject to constant supervision, it is still an employer’s duty to ensure their safety and health at work. Supervision can help to ensure that employees understand the risks associated with their work and that the necessary safety precautions are carried out. Supervisors can also provide guidance in situations of uncertainty. Supervision of safety and health can often be carried out when checking the progress and quality of the work; it may take the form of periodic site visits combined with discussions in which health and safety issues are raised.

The extent of supervision required depends on the risks involved and the ability of the lone worker to identify and handle safety and health issues. Employees new to a job, undergoing training, doing a job which presents special risks, or dealing with new situations may need to be accompanied at first. The level of supervision required is a management decision, which should be based on the findings of risk assessment, i.e. the higher the risk, the greater the level of supervision required. It should not be left to individuals to decide whether they require assistance.


Emergency Provisions for Lone Workers

  • Lone workers should be capable of responding correctly to emergencies. Risk assessment should identify foreseeable events.
  • Emergency procedures should be established and employees trained in them.
  • Information about emergency procedures and danger areas should be given to lone workers who visit your premises.
  • Lone workers should have access to adequate first-aid facilities and mobile workers should carry a first-aid kit suitable for treating minor injuries.
  • Occasionally, the risk assessment may indicate that lone workers need training in first aid.


 Working at a remote location or/and in isolation

For a lone worker at a remote location, the following factors must be considered:

  • where they are
  • who is checking in on them and when
  • what if outside normal working hours
  • how long should the work take and how frequently should the worker report in
  • has the worker a safe means of travel to and from the location, especially out of normal hours
  • is there access to adequate rest, hygiene, refreshment, welfare and first aid facilities
  • is there an emergency plan in place
  • can emergency services approach the location without hindrance. Procedures for responding to ‘worst-case scenario’


 A lone worker, working from home

  • An employer has the same responsibility for the safety and health of employees who work from home as for any other employees.
  • This covers the provision of supervision, education and training and the implementation of sufficient control measures to protect the homeworker.
  • The employer should accept liability for accident or injury of a homeworker as for any other employee.
  • The law still applies as the home has now become the place of work; albeit only the part of the home that is used for work



Take charge of your safety.

Safety Systems

  • Technology continually improving
  • Consult to determine requirement
  • Standard is BS 8484
  • Every system must know where the lone worker is at any point in working time
  • The level of protection afforded to the lone worker is directly related to the accuracy of the determination of their location
  • Expensive systems offer greater choices in relation to communications, support and alarm or distress calls
  • Use a balanced approach to risks the lone worker faces with a simple interface that protects without being over-complicated


  • Whiteboard
  • Buddy
  • Messaging
  • Mobile App
Should be:
  • Discreet Device
  • Durable Device
  • Bluetooth Device
  • Satellite Device


  • Reliable
  • Coverage
  • Tuned
  • Attended
  • Arranged

Safety Devices

  • These are useful and innovative devices and obviously there are many more.
  • We absolutely endorse the technology but so much of the “what happens next” depends on the reaction of the person with the device.
  • The question is simple: “How easily can you access your device?”, but the answer is anything but simple for most of us do not know how we will actually behave until we are confronted with the situation.


The 3 P’s


  • Considering the possibilities of potentially threatening situations.
  • Detect them at the earliest moment.
  • Use the time to make good decisions.
  • Especially important when circumstances are different to what was anticipated.



  • If you are alert and exercising awareness you should be able to avoid nearly every awkward situation.
  • If your avoidance strategy fails, then you need to be psychologically and emotionally prepared.
  • You need to be in preventative mode to prevent any threat escalating.
  • Your best chance lies in how you behave and communicate.
  • You will need to think and act quickly.



  • If your efforts to diffuse the situation were successful, then all ends well.
  • If however, your efforts are not successful, then you need to be prepared to survive and this might involve a physical response.


Report Back

Any incident, accident or challenging situation so that it may be investigated, irrespective of how trivial it might seem so that appropriate measures may be implemented to prevent reoccurrence.


A Model for Excellence


For additional information relating to lone workers, refer to HSE publication ‘Working Alone in Safety; Controlling the risks of solitary work’ available here.