Working alone creates a lot of safety concerns that don’t exist when there are multiple employees present. Unfortunately, work alone safety is something that isn’t always well defined or even well understood. Because the procedures for protecting lone workers are still evolving, we need to look around the world to see how the protection of lone workers is evolving.
In this article we’ll look at three of the leading countries in lone worker safety in order to get a better idea of where the future of lone worker safety lies.
Canada has work alone safety legislation in place both at the federal and the provincial levels. At the federal level, Canadian legislation takes a broad stance on workplace safety, requiring all employers to take reasonable precautions to prevent harm to their employees under Canada Bill C-45. This means that failure to implement working alone safety in a workplace could ultimately lead an employer to being found criminally liable.
At the provincial level, work alone legislation is more prominent. In provinces like British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador, working alone is a clearly defined concept, with sections of the provincial occupational health & safety acts devoted to explaining employer liability and the procedures necessary to ensure the safety of lone workers. Depending on province, these procedures include establishing communications, and performing check-ins at defined intervals for lone workers.
Australia’s workplace safety laws are similar to Canadian federal law in that they require employers to assess risks to employees and take preventative measures, without specifically naming and defining lone workers. Employers here would be responsible to provide a means of communicating with and protecting their lone workers, as they have increased vulnerability due to their isolation.
In Western Australia, the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations call for employers to have a means of communication available with their isolated employees, and for isolated employees to have a means of calling for help in the event of an emergency. A guidance note produced by the Department of Commerce clarifies that contact should be made between employer and employee at “pre-determined intervals.” These regulations are backed by hefty fines to both individuals and corporate bodies failing to comply.
In the United Kingdom, lone workers are protected under various laws and regulations, including The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. While lone and isolated workers are not named specifically, employers are required under these regulations to assess risks in the workplace and take preventative measures when risks are identified.
The UK’s Health and Safety Executive has produced guidance materials for employers of lone workers, identifying their legal responsibility. In these materials, the HSE recommends the implementation of monitoring procedures that include check-ins at pre-agreed intervals from workers.
The march of progress
With the advent of new mobile technologies, workplaces with lone workers are expanding all the time. With agencies like OSHA in the United States recognizing and defining lone workers, expect to see more countries around the world drafting legislation to protect their lone workers.
To find out how SafetyLine can protect your isolated and lone workers, call 1-888-WRK-ALNE or contact us by email here.