Protecting lone workers: How to manage the risks of working alone

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have given new guidance to help manage risks and keep lone workers healthy and safe.

The law will apply if:

  • You are an employer;
  • Your work activity is specifically mentioned in the regulations, this includes work in construction, agriculture, railways or work with gas, asbestos or genetically modified organisms, or;
  • Your work activity poses a risk to the health and safety of anyone else.

Think about the types of activities you undertake as part of your work and ask yourself if they pose a risk to the health or safety of others. You have a duty to protect yourself and others from the risks your work creates, even if this is only for a small part of your overall work activity. In practical terms, if you are self-employed you will not have to do anything where there is no risk to others.

Can other people be affected by your work activities? Think about the services that you provide to them, in particular:

  • Your working environment, do you work in a workplace where other people have access? Could you harm their health or safety?
  • The equipment, materials or substances that you use. Could someone be burnt, scalded, crushed, trip over or fall? Does your work activity create noise, dust, fumes? Do you use any materials or substances that could injure someone if they came into contact with them?

If you have answered yes to any of above, then it is likely your work activities may pose a risk to the health and safety of another person and the law will apply to you.

The new guidance contains a section on how to protect lone workers from the risk of work-related violence, information on how managers should keep in touch with lone workers and new advice on the impact lone working can have on stress, mental health and wellbeing.

Lone workers face the same hazards at work as anyone else, but there is a greater risk of these hazards causing harm as they may not have anyone to help or support them if things go wrong. As an employer, you should provide training, supervision, monitoring and support for lone workers.

You can access the new guidance by clicking here.

Sheila Ramshaw is an Associate in the Regulatory Services department at Sintons. To speak to Sheila about this or any other matter, contact her on 0191 226 3739 or

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