Lone working procedure

Issue 1 - July 2016

Purpose

Hampshire County Council (HCC) employs many people in varying roles which require them to work, at times, alone. Working alone can present additional or increased risks to individuals and complications which may, in turn increase risks to colleagues. This procedure recognises these risks and sets a structured way to determine appropriate systems and equipment that can be used to reduce these additional risks. It only addresses the additional risks arising from working alone and not the normal risks of the role. These should be addressed through the normal risk assessment process.

Scope

This procedure requires managers of employees to assess the additional risks that working alone creates for their staff. It sets out a framework for categorising the type of lone worker to ensure there is consistency in how the risk is assessed and managed. It also identifies control measures that may reduce the risks adequately. Appropriate control measures should be to be discussed and agreed with colleagues and recorded in individuals’ lone working risk assessments. However, this procedure does not seek to limit a manager’s authority to go beyond these controls when the risk assessment concludes they will not be suitable or sufficient in adequately reducing a risk adequately. At times the risk of lone working may not be able to be adequately controlled and a manager may decide not to allow lone working, requiring more than one person to carry out a role/task or, in extreme cases, not carry out the task at all.

Appendix 1 provides a flow chart for categorising types of lone workers to guide managers and simplify the risk assessment process.
Appendix 2 provides a menu of suggested control measures for each category of lone worker.
Appendix 3 contains a standard form for recording lone working risk assessments.

This procedure replaces all previous corporate lone working policies and procedures.

Terminology
Lone workers are those who work by themselves without close or direct supervision. Examples include social workers visiting domestic premises and maintenance staff working outside normal hours.
Procedure

Managers should consult with employees when making decisions in this procedure to ensure all parties are content risks are controlled adequately.

Categorisation process

Managers should categorise each employee’s role and risk using the flow chart in Appendix 1. Conclusions of this should be recorded on the risk assessment form.
Should the role not appear to fit a suitable category, or naturally falls within a category that appears incorrect, the manager can over-ride the decision from the chart in agreement with the employee.

Categories of lone worker role

The following categories describe general types of lone worker and should assist managers to categorise relevant roles. However the descriptions below have been produced to enable discussion between colleagues to ensure individual roles are correctly categorised.

Category 1
Lone workers who are at risk from people around them. This category would include roles such as Social Workers, Trading Standard Officers etc. Often there will be an enforcement type role or a role where they have authority or power over people who potentially pose a threat.
Category 2
Lone workers who have nobody around and carry out work which poses a significant risk of serious harm. This category would include working with dangerous machinery, or livestock, in a remote area.
Category 3
Lone workers who work in the wider community but the people around them do not pose an elevated threat. This category would include roles such as School Crossing Patrols, some Highways staff, delivery drivers etc. They will be the only HCC employee at work but they are in the normal community and so there is no reason for an elevated threat from other people. In many cases the people around them would come to their assistance in an emergency and therefore reduce the risk of lone working.
Category 4
Lone workers who work in isolated locations where the work does not pose significant risk. This category would include lone working in a data centre out of hours or a caretaker/site manager in a school. The environment and equipment in general does not pose a significant risk however, in the event of a medical issue (heart attack etc.) the person may not be detected for some time which may affect the medical outcome.

Control Measures Menu

Appendix 2 contains four sections. Each section has a menu of control measures which are available to control the risk from lone working. Some control measures are only available in certain sections. Therefore as a School Crossing Patrol colleague your safety from lone working will not probably be enhanced by an electronic tracking device. Whereas just carrying a mobile phone may not be adequate if you are potentially subject to physical violence in a role. However, all measures are available at the manager’s discretion and managers are authorised to over rule these menu choices where necessary. Moreover managers can chose to not deploy staff to work alone if they feel the risks associated with lone working are not acceptable.
Managers should discuss with their staff their role and suitable lone working controls. Agreement should be sought on the appropriate controls and application. Should no agreement be reached the decision should be escalated to the next senior manager to decide on appropriate controls to be put in place.

Lone Working Risk Assessment Record

Appendix 3 contains a form to record your assessment of the risks from lone working and to record you discussions with colleagues and finally what control measures you have decided to put in place to reduce the risk to an acceptable level. Alternative departmental recording arrangements may be substituted.

Guides
HSE leaflet INDG73(rev3) “Working alone”
HSE advice for lone workers and work-related violence
Appendices
Appendix 1 – Lone Worker Category Flow Chart
Appendix 2 - Control measures menu
Appendix 3 - Lone working risk assessment record

Printable version of procedure
The full procedure is available as a printable document: Corporate health & safety procedure - Lone working - Issue 1 - 2016-07