Many roles involve working alone, from estate agents showing people around houses, to lorry drivers, to content writers working from home. Any job that requires someone to be on their own without supervision falls into this category.
Unfortunately, lone workers are at particularly high risk. They can be vulnerable to attack or aggression, and if they fall victim to a workplace accident such as a fall, they will find it harder to get prompt help – especially if they're in an isolated location or travelling alone.
Their employers are responsible for ensuring their safety at all times, and there are steps employees can take to protect themselves whilst lone working.
1 – Check in regularly
It's not always possible to ask someone to accompany you on every work trip. The next best thing is making sure a colleague has your back when you're away.
Schedule regular check ins and let them know when you're planning to be at a few key points. They will know to raise the alarm if you don't check in as expected. Remote working can be extremely useful for employees and their employers, but it can bring its own set of challenges and it's important to be aware of them.
2 – Always have a way to communicate
It's important to always have a way to contact people for assistance if you need it. When meeting clients or having people visit you at your home, consider having a colleague or friend call you at a pre-arranged time – and have a code word to let them know if you need help.
Some lone workers carry a personal alarm. The Suzy Lamplugh Trust's website includes lots of useful information on protecting your personal safety in different situations.
3 – Risk assessments
Any tasks that involves lone working should be risk assessed. Identifying potential hazards in advance is an important step in making sure they never harm anyone.
4 – Leave if unsure
When meeting a client, travelling or otherwise working alone, if you feel threatened or unsure – you must leave. Making an excuse and re-arranging an event or meeting is far preferable to putting your own safety at risk. Your personal safety must be your top priority, and your employer's.
Likewise, if you're working alone in an environment you think may pose a physical threat to you, it's important to stop the work task immediately. Employers have a duty of care towards all their staff and should fully support them if they don't feel safe.
5 – Get proper training
Learning as much as you can about health and safety, your rights and responsibilities is an important way of protecting yourself. Whether you're working at height, on the road for your job, or dealing with aggression or violence at work, knowing what to do to keep yourself safe is vital.