What is Lone Working?
Lone working is defined by the HSE as those who work by themselves without close or direct supervision. They can often work from home, and are in a separate location to the rest of their team or manager for much of the time.
All employers have long since had responsibilities for the health and safety of their employees. However, now the law has been tightened further and managers of organisations must demonstrate a relevant duty of care and protection to employees or persons performing services for them. Failure to comply with legislation can result in heavy fines and in some cases imprisonment.
This duty of care extends to employees who are field based, on the road, work in the community, conduct home visits, and employees who work outside normal office hours. Field based employees who work alone are often referred to as ‘lone workers’ and it is estimated that there are over 4 million lone workers in the UK (Office Of National Statistics).
In order to comply with duty of care legislation, employers have utilised a number of business tools to ensure their workforce is protected within these guidelines. This has included the ability to monitor and review working practices and by exploiting communication technology offer a proactive system which can remotely check that the worker is ok at any given time.
Monitoring and the Responsibility of the Employer
To date, monitoring and reporting by employers has been mainly focused towards employees who are office-based, due to direct access to fixed line, internet and email services.
However, the working practices of field based employees has been more difficult to monitor effectively, – until now.
Two essential business assets, – mobile phones and vehicles used by mobile workers can now be monitored and their activity reported to the employer, overcoming previous difficulties and allowing the information to be used for working practices, especially to provide added safety support to the lone worker, and to provide a system which ‘watches their back”.
Mobile phones and vehicles are an extension of company responsibility and therefore associated with legislation related to the employee’s safety and the employer’s duty of care. It also extends to the use of ‘grey-fleet’ vehicles, which is any vehicle that is used by an employee for making a work-related journey.
MindSafety have developed their ‘Safety Buddy’ lone worker support package. Our job is to clearly identify to the worker that the system is designed around ensuring a safety ‘life-line’ should any problem occur, essentially checking they are ok. It is a system which only addresses their safety, and is not designed to provide a ‘work-in-motion’ mechanism for their employers to ‘check they are working efficiently.’
Our preferred partner offering the monitored App only provides the ‘Lone Worker’ module of their service, supporting the emphasis that it about the safety of the lone worker, and there for that reason alone. This greatly contributes to the acceptance of the system for what it is, and influences the belief of the workforce that the use of the app is for their safety, and not supporting some other hidden agenda.