When you invest time, money and energy into creating your company’s working alone policy and procedures, you’ll want to leverage them to successfully achieve your safety-related aims. This post will share several tips and strategies for optimal creation and implementation of this policy.
Create the Right Lone Working Policy
Templates can be quite helpful when creating policies and procedures, but you’ll need to ensure that the end result is laser-targeted to your company’s specific situations. To create the right lone worker policy for your organization:
- Specifically identify which lone worker roles exist within your company
- Assess risks, including the hazards themselves, along with who is at risk of harm, in what ways and to what degree
- Decide upon appropriate precautions for each level and type of risk
- Record your findings
- Create a work-alone policy and procedures that specifically and fully address those findings
- Define roles and responsibilities to put those policies into action
- Provide the necessary resources for employees and supervisors alike, including but not limited to the appropriate technology
Once you have a solid draft of your lone working policy and procedures, here are tips for moving forward.
Provide General Training
Employee involvement can go a long way to gaining critical buy-in, supporting strong compliance to the policy and procedures in the future. Your communications team should be able to support an internal program to progressively provide awareness as to the importance of the program and the goal of keeping everyone safe. For some businesses, getting middle management and supervisors onboard is an important first step before rolling out communications to end employees. Through such early engagement, a business can hone key messages before rolling out communications to the broad teams.
Change management is always a key topic. Clearly and concisely communicating your overall policy and related procedures is a must. This allows you to share the importance of each element in the policy and how it contributes to safety and security, and can help your company get buy-in from everyone on your team. You may want to consider holding a meeting before the policy is finalized, because questions asked and concerns raised by employees and supervisors may cause you to tweak what you’ve drafted.
Once the lone working policy is finalized, have everyone in your company attend a meeting to review the final version, whether this means one big meeting or in smaller departmental ones. This is where you can review overall workplace hazards and how employees, in general, should act to protect themselves.
Roles and Responsibilities-Based Training
The next training component focuses on the information you’ll provide to employees who fit into each lone worker category, whether it’s someone who works alone occasionally or regularly. At these training sessions, you will get into more detail about which procedures apply specifically to the employees in the session. If lone workers are using automated technology to keep an eye out for their safety, guidelines on proper usage are presented. The goal is to share policies and procedures in a way that provides clarity and boosts the employees’ confidence in their ability to safely address the challenges associated with lone working activities.
Specific hazards discussed can include working at high heights, with electricity, in an especially remote location, second shifts, after-hours on-call and more. It can also, as another example, include potential hazards associated with machinery and other equipment that employees use. What’s important is that, in these sessions, you go beyond general best practices to provide job-specific guidelines.
Supervisors, meanwhile, should be well trained in how to support their employees oversee, including in-person spot-checks, manual employee check-ins or the employee’s use of automated lone worker monitoring wearables. Each supervisor should also be trained in how to spot, monitor and address problems that a worker may not verbalize. Is a lone worker, for example, showing increasing amounts of stress in his or her role? If so, how should the supervisor respond?
Incorporate Lone Worker Policies & Procedures into Employee Onboarding
Make sure that the new employees joining your company (after your working alone policy and procedures are established) get the same depth of training as when you first introduced the policies. This includes when onboarding lone workers, but also supervisors. For comprehensive communications, even those who will not work alone should be aware of the policy and program. After all, a company can never say with certainty that an employee will never be working alone. For example, someone in an office could work alone during a week when some coworkers are on vacation, others are off-site and so forth. Also, it demonstrates the leadership that your business has undertaken to keep everyone safe, under all circumstances.
Supply the Right Technology
If an accident or injury occurs, what’s most important is getting to that employee as quickly as possible. Because lone workers are isolated beyond sight and sound of others — sometimes in remote places — if they don’t have the right technology, precious minutes or hours can go by without a proactive response, potentially affecting the employee’s outcome. Compared to manual employee check-ins to a remote team and in-person supervisor spot-checks, lone worker monitoring technology actively alerts remote monitoring personnel in seconds. In contrast, manual processes that periodically confirm the worker’s wellbeing every couple of hours are only as good as the time interval between check-ins. Beyond the productivity impact of performing manual checks, if an employee is injured soon after a supervisor check took place, that means the employee probably won’t receive help for close to two hours.
Active monitoring technology greatly improves your company’s ability to respond quickly to safety-related incidents. That, in turn, greatly improves the outcome for the employee who needs but can’t call for help, whether indoors or out, driving or located in a remote place. Providing your lone workers with the correct, active and connected technology is the best way to protect them and ensure the fastest emergency response possible.
Technology can go beyond the crucial role of helping to keep lone workers safe by also integrating other technologies such as gas detection and push-to-talk radio calling, helping to round out a business’ digital transformation program for connected workers..
Regularly Review Risk Assessments and Procedures
Typically, before a particular job begins, a risk assessment is conducted. This will help to determine the likelihood of a hazardous incident taking place and to put measures into place to reduce those risks as much as possible. This assessment, though, only captures a moment in time. This means that risk assessments and procedures that are designed to reduce levels of risk need to be regularly reviewed.
Consider having your safety team comprehensively review your company’s working alone policy and procedures annually (in addition to the times when specific concerns have been raised). Has any contact information for reporting changed? Have your manual check-in processes changed or any updates with adopted automated lone worker monitoring technology? Have any new employee rolls been created or modified that require lone work? Was any new machinery or equipment purchased? Are everyone’s safety certifications current? Have you changed your protective gear? In each case, this will likely require edits in your policies and procedures, and potentially to your lone worker policy.
After periodic reviews, create a list of recommended changes and run them through your company’s approval process. Consider getting feedback from a committee of supervisors and lone workers who would be most affected by additions and changes.
As an example, the location that a lone worker assigned to perform outdoor work is close to, but not the same as where he or she was working previously when the risk assessment was first completed. It’s possible that the levels of risk and types of hazards are the same, but that’s not something that can safely be assumed. So, another risk assessment is recommended.
Is there a chance of extreme weather conditions? Double-check to make sure this was assessed in the original risk analysis and in procedures put in place to protect those lone workers.
Is your supervisor-to-lone-worker ratio still the same? If, for example, your company is receiving more contracts that require lone workers, it makes sense to ensure that there are enough supervisors and that they’re still able to physically check in with those employees as often as your hazard assessment determines is optimal.
Are established manual lone worker monitoring procedures reliably meeting corporate goals? If supervisors are failing to regularly check in with lone workers, your business and employees are being exposed to risk unnecessarily. If this is the case, your business may be open to considering proactive and automated lone worker safety monitoring technology.
Schedule Regular Retraining Sessions
Once your lone worker policy is updated to your satisfaction for the upcoming year, schedule meetings with employees and supervisors to discuss the changes, answer questions and address any concerns. You may want to combine this topic as part of a general meeting for the company and then schedule smaller work sessions with individual departments, to ensure that employees and supervisors are provided with information about the big picture, as well as what specifically applies to them.
Lone Working Safety Solution
Monitoring solutions for lone workers can help companies to protect their employees and give them the confidence they need to fulfill their roles, while also saving the company money through team efficiency gains by forgoing manual check-in processes.
Blackline’s lone worker safety solutions make monitoring easy and efficient, using direct-to-cloud lone worker wearables with the option of integrated gas detection. Each wearable connects to the Blackline Safety Cloud that provides an online monitoring portal that is accessible through desktop computers and mobile devices. A live monitoring team responds to every alert in real-time, having the capability to dispatch critical resources to the employee’s exact location. Custom site and floor plans display your employee’s location in context of their surroundings. Monitoring options include control rooms, supervisors, admin personnel or optionally, Blackline’s 24/7 live monitoring team, freeing your supervisors up to focus on managing and growing your company.
Our lone working solutions provide assisted GPS and indoor location technology and the option of integrated gas detection and push-to-talk radio calling. Plus, you can monitor lone worker compliance through industry-leading data analytics and visualization tools. To talk about your company’s specific needs, please contact us online.