Businesses urged to consider the risks of lone working


The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has updated their advice on how to keep lone workers healthy and safe.

Employers are responsible for the health, safety and welfare of all their workers, including contractors or self-employed people doing work for them.

Workers do also still have a responsibility to take reasonable care of themselves and other people affected by their work, and to co-operate with their employers.

People who work alone are still under the care of their employers, even though they work without close or direct supervision.

Lone workers range from someone working on their own in a shop, people working from home, through to mobile workers doing maintenance and repair, or postal staff.

Assess and control

Employers have to assess the potential risks, which must include involving workers in considerations, taking steps to remove the risks, instruction and training, and reviewing risk assessments periodically.

Employers and workers need to be aware that some tasks may be too difficult or dangerous to be carried out by someone on their own, and sometimes more supervision may be needed such as when working in confined spaces, or dealing with unpredictable client behaviour and situations.

There could also be specific laws prohibiting lone working in some industries, such as diving operations or fumigation work.

Making sure the working environment is risk free for people working on their own can be different than organising the health and safety of other employees.

Both normal work and foreseeable emergencies should be taken into account, considering things such as equipment and machinery, is there a safe way in and out, hazardous substances, a risk of violence/aggression.


Where lone workers are only under limited supervision, training is particularly important, it may be crucial to help people cope in unexpected circumstances.

Without close supervision, it is more difficult to ask for help, so employees need to be experienced enough and fully understand the risks and precautions involved in the work they do.

It is also advised that new workers are accompanied by someone experienced when they first start the role.

It is also important to make sure that lone workers are still monitored, this could be through supervisors visiting periodically, pre-agreed contact between the worker and the supervisor, or automatic warning devices.

And all employers must make sure there are emergency procedures in place, which should be given to people working alone.

For more information and to read the full revised leaflet please visit the HSE website here.


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