Lone Working Risk Assessment for Employees [Beginner’s Guide]

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According to recent studies, there are well over 8 million lone workers in the UK. That statistic on its own is not too shocking, right? 

But what if we told you that 68% of companies with lone workers saw them report an incident in the last three years?

Suddenly, the importance of understanding how to stay safe when working alone becomes even more pertinent.

In this article, we cover lone working risk assessments to define what they are, the activities they cover, and why.

Plus, we also outline how passing the IOSH Managing Safely qualification with TSW Training can empower lone workers with the knowledge they need to stay safe on the job.

What is Lone Working?

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) defines ‘lone workers’ as: 

“Someone who works by themselves without close or direct supervision.”

It’s easy to think of lone workers as contractors or the self-employed. However, there are more nuances to the title in the eyes of the legislation.

The term ‘lone worker’ can encompass those who:

  • Work alone at a fixed base such as shops, petrol stations, leisure facilities, factories, or warehouses.
  • Work separately or outside normal business hours at the same premises as others, for example, cleaners, security staff, or caretakers.
  • Volunteer by carrying out lone working tasks on behalf of a charity, such as litter picking or general fundraising.

But the term can also cover those who work away from fixed premises, such as:

  • Delivery drivers/couriers
  • Home workers 
  • Estate agents 
  • Postal staff 
  • Taxi drivers
  • Field sales staff
  • Doctors, nurses, or caregivers
  • Social workers 
  • Members of the clergy

Crucially, the lone working legislation also covers home workers. When you consider that around 39% of the UK’s workforce now work from home full-time or some of the time, compliance becomes even more important.

Uniformed delivery man stacking parcels in the back of a transit van.

What is a Lone Working Risk Assessment?

Similar to standard workplace risk assessments, working in isolation risk assessments cover the process of identifying, overviewing, and mitigating the hazards and risks associated with a specific job role.

These comprehensive checks should cover several areas, including: 

  • The job being carried out 
  • The environment in which it is being carried out 
  • The people who may be at risk

Under Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, employers have a duty to ensure the safety of all employees. Part of this legislation also mandates the use of lone working risk assessments. 

In addition, Regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 dictates that employers should make a suitable assessment of the risks facing employees while at work.

Lone Working Risk Assessment Example

A robust risk assessment for lone workers should consider all credible hazards associated with the task being completed. 

An example risk assessment for a lone worker would be a contractor operating at height. Obviously, this is a high-risk activity that requires working at height training. However, a robust risk assessment should also be in place. This could look something like this:

Task Roof repairs
Applicable to Roofing contractor or lone worker
Hazard Falling as a result of working at height
Frequency Monthly
Consequence Serious or fatal injury
Controls
  • Safety harness tethered to secure fixing point
  • Lone Worker device/phone with a panic button 
  • Critical alarm management system
  • Platforms and assistance machinery to prevent over-stretching/reaching
  • Working at height training
Pre-Control Risk Level High
Post-Control Risk Level Low

Lone Working Procedure for Employees

Knowing how to pass an IOSH Managing Safely risk assessment is crucial to gaining your qualification. So, it pays to know the procedure for completing these checks.

There are five core steps to completing a comprehensive lone worker risk assessment. 

We’ll cover these in more detail shortly, but they are: 

  1. Identify any hazards
  2. Assess who may be harmed
  3. Evaluate the risk and mitigation 
  4. Record your findings
  5. Review the effectiveness of your assessment

Completing these five steps enables workers to cover every potential hazard and implement suitable controls. 

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Lone Working Risk Assessment Checklist

To ensure your lone worker risk assessment is as comprehensive as possible, a checklist of general measures and reviews can ensure coverage. 

A robust checklist should include questions like:

  • Has the worker completed appropriate training – like passing the IOSH Managing Safely course with TSW Training?
  • Is the task achievable for a lone worker?
  • Is the lone worker of the requisite skill level to complete the task?
  • Does the task include handling dangerous equipment or using hazardous substances as outlined in the COSHH guidelines?
  • Are there any manual handling tasks involved in the operations?
  • Do the tasks or substances used necessitate another person being present or – like a colleague, supervisor or Line Manager?
  • Does the work require any specialist equipment or personal protective equipment (PPE)?
  • Is the equipment being used subjected to regular maintenance?
  • Is the task stressful? Does it possess the ability to affect a worker’s mental well-being?
  • Does the lone worker have any medical conditions that would affect their ability to complete the task safely?
  • Is there a risk of violence at the premises?
  • Does the worker have a clear understanding of the emergency procedures?
  • Are your lone workers under considered supervision?

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5 HSE Lone Working Risk Assessment Steps

The HSE outlines that there are five clear steps to effective lone worker risk assessments. Let’s take a look at these crucial stages in more detail now.

Step 1: Identify Hazards

The first stage is identifying anything associated with the job that could pose a hazard.

Step 2: Assess the Risks 

Once hazards have been identified, you then need to ascertain and analyse who could be at risk. This will then allow you to attribute a level of risk to the hazard.

Step 3: Control the Risks 

Next, you need to outline the necessary measures to mitigate or eliminate the risk altogether.

Step 4: Record Your Findings 

You should note all those findings after identifying hazards, assessing the risk involved, and outlining mitigation plans.

Aside from being the next step in the lone worker risk assessment process, keeping a record of the checks will also act as key evidence that safe processes were followed in the event of an incident.

Step 5: Review Efficacy

Once the job has been carried out, workers should review how effective their safety processes and risk mitigation tactics were. This will allow for learning to improve future processes.

Far from being simple ‘tick-box exercises,’ lone worker risk assessments are crucial elements of solo work. Plus, the legislation highlights that employers and businesses are liable for any compensation or fine payment in the event of an incident. So, it pays to ensure your workers know and understand this process.

For example, in 2017, the London Borough of Brent was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay £10,918 in costs when two social workers were violently attacked during a vulnerable child home visit.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some frequently asked questions about lone working risk assessments. 

Are Lone Working Risk Assessments a Legal Requirement?

Yes. Lone worker risk assessments are a legal requirement under Regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

The regulations dictate that employers have a duty to make a suitable assessment of the risks facing employees while at work – this extends to home or lone workers.

Is it a Legal Requirement for Staff to Have a Lone Working Risk Assessment?

Yes. Under Section 7 of the Health and Safety at Work Act, employees are required to take reasonable care of their own health and safety.

They also have a duty to cooperate with employers to ensure they comply with the legislation. This includes carrying out lone worker risk assessments.

Is Lone Work Risk Assessment Applicable if You are Working from Your Home?

Business owners need to include homeworkers in their risk assessments. The HSE highlights that employers do not need to visit to ensure home workers’ health and safety.

However, they should remain in regular contact with them to ensure their home workspace is safe.

Do I Need a Risk Assessment with Less Than 5 Employees?

You do not need to conduct a written risk assessment if you have less than five employees. However, written assessments are the best way to certify compliance in the event of an incident.

Conclusion

Lone working risk assessments are a crucial element of solo projects. Both workers and employers must ensure they are entirely compliant with HSE guidance.

The increase in hybrid and full-time homeworkers in the UK has emphasised the need for employees to have health and safety knowledge.

Ensure your team remains compliant by educating them on lone working risk assessments with a TSW Training IOSH Managing Safely qualification.

Picture of Matthew Channell
Matthew Channell
Matthew is TSW Training’s Commercial Director. He writes about performance focussed learning, leadership, and management approaches that have real-world, sustainable impact.
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