Due Diligence and Keeping Lone Workers Safe

First of a Series by Kent Macfarlane

Two workers in safety gear looking at structure

Due diligence is the level of judgement, care, prudence, determination, and activity that a person would reasonably be expected to do under particular circumstances.

Applied to occupational health and safety, due diligence means that employers must take all reasonable precautions, under the particular circumstances of every aspect of their business, to prevent injuries or accidents in the workplace. This duty applies to situations covered by  occupational health and safety legislation or regulations and equally importantly, those that are not.

How-to Exercise Due Diligence

To exercise due diligence, an employer must implement a plan to identify possible workplace hazards and carry out the appropriate corrective action to prevent accidents or injuries arising from these hazards. Due diligence in safety management can be described as “a system approach that provides:

  • information,
  • instruction,
  • training,
  • supervision,
  • verification of knowledge, and
  • correction of physical and human hazards

Due Diligence Applied to Lone Workers

The current definition of a “lone worker” is someone who cannot be seen or heard by any other person, whether co-worker or member of the public. Examples of lone workers include, but should not be limited to:

  • Weekend or after-hour scheduled maintenance
  • Custodial or janitorial workers
  • Taxi and bus drivers
  • Liquor store employees
  • Gasoline service stations
  • Convenience stores
  • Real estate agents
  • Social workers
  • Inspectors
  • Security personnel
  • Enforcement officers
  • Home care or health care workers
  • Home Service or repair workers
  • Home Sales people

 Hazard Assessment

The first piece in the Employers’ “Due Diligence” structure is, therefore, the identification of all the hazards which threaten the workers’ Health and Safety. The hazards faced by lone workers are among the most problematic because of the wide variety of jobs those workers perform. Examine your First Aid and Incident Investigation files for specific information about reported hazards and injuries. Talk with your lone workers and their supervisors to find out their concerns. Examples of hazards include, but should not be limited to work that is done:

  • At heights.
  • Where there is a possibility of strains, sprains or broken limbs
  • Where there is a possibility of trips, slips or falls on the same level
  • Where there is a possibility of being struck by falling or moving objects
  • Where there is a possibility of being rendered unconscious
  • In confined spaces (such as tanks, grain bins or elevators, culverts, etc.).
  • With electricity.
  • With hazardous substances or materials (WHMIS-related exposures)
  • With hazardous equipment such as box-cutters, chainsaws, balers, compactors or firearms.
  • With any kind of material at great pressure
  • With or near uncontrolled children and animals (including house pets)
  • With the public, where there is a potential for violence.

When the hazards, no matter how “trivial” or “impossible” they may seem to you, have been identified, you must address them in a real way. Part II will deal with several methodologies which help you put a comprehensive set of policies (strategies) and procedures (tactics) into place.

 

About the Author:

Kent Macfarlane has over 25 years experience as a Health and Safety professional, and currently advises clients through Health & Safety Management Assistance.  

Health & Safety Management Assistance is dedicated to improving Health and Safety in B. C. workplaces through the education, training and compliance of our clients. Their goal is to give you and your workers the guidance and education to ensure a safer work environment which will help to eliminate or reduce WorkSafe B.C. claims.

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