The statistics regarding workplace injuries and fatalities in Canada are baffling. According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, there were 951 workplace fatalities recorded in 2017 with an additional 251,508 injuries which took place on the job. An employer must manage the safety and health of his or her employees and thus minimize the number of incidents that occur in the workplace. Since safety hazards are amplified when an employee is working in isolation, this article will specifically discuss lone workers and consider ways that an organization can best keep its lone workers safe.
Establish a Comprehensive Health and Safety Program
A thorough health and safety program should cover: how to identify and control workplace safety hazards, how to cultivate and sustain a positive safety culture, the importance of safety at work, information regarding injury prevention tactics, post-accident procedures, emergency protocols, and the individual responsibilities of employees. Having a program in place is essential because it gives management guidelines to enforce and promotes a positive safety culture within an organization.
Pay Close Attention to High-Risk Activities for Lone Workers
Take special consideration of employees who are required to work at heights, near power lines, with hazardous substances and materials, close to electricity, with the public where there is the possibility for physical or verbal abuse, employees who work in confined spaces, and those who are required to work with dangerous tools. Although all of these activities are high-risk regardless, they become more hazardous when being performed by a lone worker because if something goes wrong, someone may not know right away.
Conduct Regular Hazard Assessments
Carrying out hazard assessments are an essential component of creating a safe work environment for your staff. The first thing your company should do is gather employees from various positions and list the work activities that each job entails. Next, identify the hazards that each position involves and classify each hazard into one of six categories: ergonomic, physical, biological, chemical, work organization, and safety hazards.
You can read more about how to recognize and prepare for workplace hazards in our previous blog article here.
After you have identified the unique hazards related to each position within your company, it is time to rate the risk associated with each of these hazards. Severity should be measured in terms of the most likely consequence, on a scale of low (a minor injury that may require first aid), medium (medical treatment with no lost time), high (injury that requires considerable lost time for the worker), and very high (permanent disability or possible fatality). Lastly, identify the likelihood of each event occurring. Using the severity of the consequence, as well as the possibility of that consequence occurring, you can determine the risk of a task.
Establish a Lone Worker Check-In Procedure
Your company mustn’t rely on an employee’s ability to call for help, to call for help. A check-in system enables your people to check-in regularly and confirms that they are safe regularly. Employees can customize their required check-in times, depending on the risk of their task at hand. We recommend that workers shorten their check-in intervals in high-risk situations to confirm their safety more frequently. Check-in procedures that allow an employee to make additional notes are beneficial. If a worker can specify their activities and context of their work, monitors may be able to respond more quickly and efficiently if there is an emergency.
Detect Movement: Use In-App Motion Sensors
Since the nature of lone work entails working in isolation, often in a remote location, lone workers must have a backup in case something goes wrong. In-app motion sensors are an effective way to ensure your people’s safety, regardless of their ability to check-in. Features such as fall detection, man-down detection, and shake for emergency provide comprehensive coverage for employees working alone and in hazardous environments. You can read more about the benefits of motion sensors here.
Effective training procedures are an excellent way for organizations to combat complacent behavior and educate their lone workers on appropriate practices and protocols associated with their field of work. The first step is to carefully identify areas where training is necessary, decide on training methods, and then implement training regimes. In the case of lone workers who routinely perform dangerous tasks, it would be valuable to shadow them on the job to evaluate their safety awareness and determine areas where they can improve.
Maintain Open Lines of Communication
Continuous communication between the monitor and lone worker is imperative to secure the safety of your company’s workers in the field. It is helpful to unify communications with existing devices for convenience and ease of use. In-app check-in services such as motion features are extremely advantageous, as they can be used on devices that workers already use. You can read more about work alone supported devices here.
When it comes down to it, lone worker safety is all about risk mitigation. Using an automated lone worker monitoring solution like SafetyLine will allow your organization to protect its people in a cost-effective and comprehensive way.