Among the many safety tips provided to workers is the advice that employees should look out for each other. Workers who are doing their jobs together can alert each other to possible signs of danger and can seek prompt and immediate medical attention for their co-workers when something goes wrong.
Unfortunately, an attorney experienced in workers' compensation claims knows there are many employees who do not have the luxury of having co-workers nearby who can help to protect them. There are people across all industries who work alone. This can include people at retail stores or in factories who work on weekends and evenings. It can also include utility or maintenance workers who are out in the field, agricultural workers, and people from many other fields.
When a worker is sent out alone to do a job and has no co-workers present to look out for his or her safety, special precautions must be taken to avoid tragic accidents and to ensure the employee is able to get prompt medical assistance if a problem does develop. The National Safety Council advised in its Safety & Health newsletter on some steps employers should take to provide appropriate protections to employees who work alone.
Prevention of Injuries Among Lone Workers
Whether employees work alone or are surrounded by colleagues, it is the responsibility of employers to institute best practices for safety. Some recommendations for the protection of lone workers include the following:
- Perform a risk assessment before the employee is sent out to work alone. Determine what possible dangers may be presented by having the worker doing his job independently. Make a determination on whether it is actually safe for the worker to be alone when performing his work tasks or whether there should be multiple workers present for the job.
- Train the worker on appropriate emergency response. The training should provide information on how to handle the specific risk factors identified in the risk assessment.
- Establish a clear plan of action in case an emergency does develop. Make sure the employee knows exactly how to get help.
- Impose strict limitations on what the lone worker is permitted to do when working alone. Ensure the employee refrains from dangerous actions.
- Require supervisors make periodic visits to the lone worker. Supervisors should check up periodically on the worker to ensure he is OK and no problems have developed.
- Mandate regular contact. The worker should be required to check in regularly via phone, radio, or other communication device. Technologies like automated warning devices can also be used to track worker movements and to send out a signal or an alert if something irregular is detected.
- Ensure lone workers have a fixed home base to return to or ensure lone workers have returned home after a project, task, or work assignment has been completed.
By following these basic best practices for safety, the risk of injury or death to lone workers can hopefully be reduced and employees can stay safer.