WHAT IS A LONE WORKER?
The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) definition of a lone worker is someone who “work[s] by themselves without close or direct supervision”. This broad definition can include any employee who spends time in an office on their own, travelling between meetings, or even working at home or, for example, in a café – either regularly or on the odd occasion.
In fact, the Office of National Statistics estimates that there are nearly 6 million lone workers in the UK. Many of these individuals work in conditions that expose them to personal danger from work-related violence or verbal abuse, accidents, serious illness or injury. And due to the fact that they are on their own this puts them at a greater risk should the worst happen.
What does this mean for employers?
As an employer, you have a legal and moral Duty of Care to your employees to protect them from unnecessary risk. If one of your employees suffers harm at work as a consequence of doing their job, you could end up in court. And if it can be proven that the systems you employ aren’t up to the job of protecting your lone working employees, you may be in breach of numerous pieces of Health and Safety legislation. This could have disastrous consequences.
Before even considering the cost of fines and litigation, the HSE estimates that it can cost between £17,000 and £19,000 on average just to investigate a physical assault. It can cost a lot less to prevent one. If an incident does occur, the courts will take the resources available to an organisation into consideration – the Sentencing Council guidelines state that a Corporate Manslaughter fine can be up to £20 million. But it is no defence for an employer to say that they did not have the time, money or resources to reduce risk. There is the possibility of courts imposing publicity orders which can tarnish reputations, and in the worst cases, prison sentences for seniors managers found to be negligent.
Major companies convicted of corporate manslaughter will face fines of up to £20m under new sentencing guidelines.
Legislation affecting employers:
• The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
• The Health & Safety Offences Act 2008
• The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
• The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007
These are only the general laws affecting organisations – in addition, there are whole host of supplementary Health and Safety regulations which apply to specific industries, workplace environments and types of job activity.
WHEN ARE YOU MOST LIKELY TO HAVE AN ACCIDENT AT WORK?
To an organisation, their employees are their greatest asset. A robust workforce will help the business run smoothly and be brand ambassadors at all times. However, serious accidents suffered by employees at work could result in absenteeism, disabilities and even fatalities. This could have serious implications and costs to an organisation.
The latest statistics from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) states that, 137 workers lost their lives in 2016/17 due to a workplace accident. Meanwhile, there were over 600,000 cases of non-fatal injuries reported by employees whilst at work.
Although workplace accidents are unpredictable, organisations could still implement certain measures at work to prevent their employees from suffering an accident. The statistics above also serves as a stark reminder to organisations on the importance of carrying out risk assessments to help identify and prevent common hazards at their workplace.
So what are the most common accidents suffered by employees at work?
Here we highlight the top 5 most common non-fatal injuries suffered by employees as reported by employers under RIDDOR in 2016/17.
1. Slips, trip or fall: This topped the list as the most common accident suffered by employees whilst at work in 2016/17. Employers should have a proactive approach towards keeping the work environment clean from any spillages or trips hazards.
2. Lifting/handling: Injuries suffered by lifting or handling heavy objects at work was next in line. Organisations should ensure all employees are trained correctly on manual handling to help prevent this easily avoidable injury.
3. Struck by object: According to the statistics this was the 3rd most common cause of non-fatal injury to workers. We have covered a blog post on reducing injuries caused by objects falling from height.
4. Fall from a height: Employers should ensure all staff members are correctly trained when carrying out work from a height. This is in fact one of the most common type of fatal injuries suffered by employees too.
5. Acts of violence: Employees who work in public facing job roles are also at risk of violence from the general public. We have created a section on our website that covers the potential hazards and solution of a public facing job role.
Along with the above there have also been many other causes of non-fatal injuries for example; Contact with machinery and being struck against something fixed or stationary. Although the above accidents are claimed to be non-fatal, some of them could have led to a fatality, especially in a scenario where the employee may have been working alone.
It is estimated that up to 8 million people in the United Kingdom are lone workers. That’s 22% of the 31.2m UK working population. Employers need to take into consideration the potential dangers a lone working employee could run into. For example; if an employee slips and suffers a serious injury whilst working alone, then it would be much harder for them to call for help or raise an alarm.
HOW DO YOU REPORT A HEALTH & SAFETY PROBLEM AT WORK?
Statistics by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) suggests that 137 employees suffered a fatal injury whilst working in 2016/2017. If a worker suffers a fatal or serious workplace injury, then employers are legally required to report it to the relevant authorities under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR).
Employers or other people in control of work premises are also required to keep records of:
• Work related accidents which caused death
• Work related serious injuries resulting in hospital treatments
• Diagnosed cases of certain industrial diseases
• Dangerous occurrences or near miss incidents, which could have caused serious harm.
The report must be made to the enforcing authority without delay and within ten days of the incident (Weightmans, 2018). Employers can complete a RIDDOR report via telephone or by completing the appropriate online form. This will be submitted to the RIDDOR database and you will receive a copy for your records.
Employers are only required to complete a RIDDOR report if the accident was work-related. The following factors can help identify this:
1. The way the work was organised, carried out or supervised
2. Any machinery, plant, substances or equipment used for the work or
3. The condition of the site or premises where the accident happened.
It’s very important to report deaths and serious injuries caused at work as it helps the relevant authorities to identify where or how risks arise and whether they need to be investigated. The report will also allow the enforcing authorities to provide advice about how to avoid workplace deaths, injuries, ill health and accidental loss (HSE RIDDOR, 2017).
Employers have a duty of care requirement to help ensure the health, safety and well-being of every employee within their organisation. This also includes employees who work alone without much direct supervision.
The HSE also states that employers are required to ensure the safety of anyone that deals with the organisation, directly applying to customers, suppliers and the general public (HSE, 2018). This means building premises are kept clutter free, clean and help eliminate risks.
Hazards that can cause serious injury include; electrical safety, fire safety, slip or trip hazards and falls from height. Less obvious dangers should also be considered such as musculoskeletal disorders and work-related stress. Employers can conduct a risk assessment to identify these hazards and implement effective measures to help avoid any serious workplace injuries.
According to Unison (2018), “a risk assessment is the process of defining what hazard exists or might appear in the workplace”. With an effective risk assessment an organisation will be able to take reasonable steps to prevent harm. The HSE also introduced the following 5 step approach to help control risks in the workplace:
A lone working risk assessment should be put in place if there are lone workers within your organisation. Employees who work alone are more exposed than someone who works in a busy office in an incident occurs. Consider setting up a lone worker solution to help protect their safety, which could be crucial should an emergency situation arise and they are unable to call for help.
Most accidents can be easily avoided if the right measures are put in place to help identify the potential cause of the accident and how it could affect someone. Effective training and a positive approach towards safety at work would also help encourage staff to be more proactive towards their own safety.
Peoplesafe acquires further contracts in Social Housing sector
Peoplesafe is pleased to announce further commitment as a leader of lone worker safety technology in the Social Housing sector. The buyer, Crusoe Topco Limited (11652662), trading as Peoplesafe, acquired (via the acquisition of certain trade and assets from AVR Limited, trading as Alertcom), the Alertcom business as a growing concern for an undisclosed consideration
Alertcom Launch IDX Lone Worker Device
As one of the UK’s fastest growing providers of Lone Worker Protection Devices, Alertcom are proud to announce the launch of the next generation Lone Worker Device, Alertcom IDX.
IDX combines the features of the original Alertcom ID model with enhanced battery life, better durability and optimised performance levels.
The launch of IDX is the result of 2 years development between Alertcom and their technology partner, Teltonika who are global leaders in the design and manufacture of GPS enabled technology.
To find out more about how our Lone Worker solution can help safeguard your lone workers, contact the Alertcom sales and support team on: 0333 222 3955
Visit us at IOSH 19 16th-17th September 2019
Alertcom are proud to sponsor IOSH 2019, the global conference for safety and health professionals.
Held at the International Convention Centre (ICC) in the centre of Birmingham, from September 16-17, IOSH 2019 brings together professionals from across the world and across sectors, all with a shared passion for protecting working people.
Visit us on Stand 12 and talk to our experts about how we can help you protect your lone workers and make them feel more secure in their everyday roles. We look forward to meeting you.
To book your pass for IOSH 2019 visit www.ioshconference.com.
Come and see us at PfH Live 25th-28th June 2019
We are exhibiting at PfH live, Manchester Central. Come and have a chat with Elaine and Chris on stand P136.
Click here to register.
Procurement for Housing launch Lone Worker Protection Services Framework
The implementation of lone worker protection services by public sector organisations is growing at an exceptional rate, the UK leads the way from its European counterparts and Berg Insight estimate that over half a million devices will be connected by 2022.
Procurement for Housing launched the inaugural lone worker protection services framework in 2015, enabling all public sector organisations to quickly and easily procure services from a range of suppliers. Direct contract awards can be made to the top ranked supplier or mini competitions can be run between all suppliers.
Following a rigorous tendering exercise, Alertcom were proud to be awarded as top ranked supplier for the second time running following significant annual growth over the course of the previous framework.
Elaine Wood, customer service manager at Alertcom commented;
“We’re delighted to maintain our position as first ranked supplier, it’s been a pleasure
working with PfH and their members. We’ve had some fantastic feedback from managers
and front line staff who have used devices to summon emergency assistance in distressful
Alertcom show their support for local football team
Alertcom are delighted to confirm their sponsorship of local East Manchester Junior football leagues Signol Athletic FC U15’s providing much needed, all weather training jackets for players.
Signol Athletic FC are a Charter Standard Club and have been making football available to children in the Stockport area since the early 1980's. Their aim is to provide a safe, fair and enjoyable environment in which children of all abilities can play football. Signol provide an excellent standard of coaching from age 3 to Open Age and this is only possible through the time and patience of volunteer coaches! For more information on Signol Athletic FC, please visit their website www.signolathletic.co.uk
AVR Group T/A Alertcom Wins Global Business Excellence Award
AVR Group was named winner of the Outstanding Innovation category at the 2018 Global Business Excellence Awards. AVR Group Limited, based in the North West, was recognised for its innovative approach to Lone worker protection provided via its Alertcom® brand. The Global Business Excellence Awards pride themselves on having a large panel of independent expert judges who select winners according to strict criteria for each category and sector; focussing on financial results, innovation, customer, employee, investor and community benefits.
Commenting on AVR Group, the winner in the Outstanding Innovation category, the chairman of the judges said: “From now on lone workers can feel safer wherever they are working thanks to AVR’s Alertcom® device and service that utilises GPS (global positioning system). Alertcom® operates round the clock and gives lone workers reassurance that they can summon assistance quickly in an emergency at the press of a button. Another advantage is that it helps companies comply with legislation. AVR Group has already won several major orders for Alertcom® and sales for the coming year are expected to soar. This is an exceptional product that is certain to be a runaway success.”
Upon receiving the Award, Elaine Wood, Alertcom’s customer service manager commented: “We are delighted to receive this prestigious accolade, Alertcom is firmly established as the solution of choice for organisations looking to provide top level of protection for Lone Workers. We are committed to continual innovation and are working on a number of exciting innovations to further differentiate our service.”
Alertcom Safecheck proves to be a big success with clients
Safecheck Timer developed by Alertcom allows lone workers to set a countdown timer session at the Incident Management Centre with their GPS device. Since its launch in August 2017, over 50,000 successful Safecheck sessions have been set within one organisation alone.
Unique in the market, Alertcom Safecheck differs from other timer-based solutions available by having the timer function held remotely rather than within the device. It means that regardless of whether the device is taken from the lone worker or it becomes damaged, the Safecheck session remains intact. On expiry of the timer the Incident Management Centre is alerted and escalation procedures can be initiated.
Alertcom Customer Support Manager Elaine Wood said “We’ve seen a significant increase in uptake over the last 12 months. Organisations are realising the added level of protection Safecheck provides for lone workers”
Protecting lone workers during a network outage
Cellular network connectivity forms a critical element of lone worker device functionality - if a device has no network coverage it cannot communicate with the Incident Management Centre thus providing no protection to the lone worker.
Whilst mobile phones can only connect to a single network, lone worker devices can benefit from enhanced geographical coverage when supplied with SIM cards that connect to multiple network.
Recent cases of network outages emphasise the importance of selecting multi-network SIMS in lone worker devices as they will connect to an alternative network during an outage on the primary network ensuring the lone worker continues to be protected.
Employee safety - a top priority for Basildon Borough Council
Employee safety and wellbeing is a top priority for Basildon Borough Council and Health Safety Lead Glynn Gibson, a Chartered Fellow of IOSH. With over 200 workers that are potentially exposed to personal safety risks, Glynn and his team were tasked with identifying and implementing safeguards using dedicated GPS enabled devices.
The chosen provider was to have a proven track record and be certified to BS8484 (The British Standard for the provision of lone worker safety services) and supporting portal that allowed both users and managers to easily make amendments. Following successful trials Basildon selected Alertcom, following in the footsteps of a growing number of organisations implementing safeguards to protect their workers.
Glynn commented: “Personal safety risks to frontline workers in public services appear to be rising and therefore we wanted to ensure that the review of our systems was ‘fit for purpose’ and easy to manage. Not only did we find the provider to meet our aims, but our choice was also the most cost effective provider.”
Alertcom continue to support local Foodbank
Alertcom make a positive impact to people by delivering economic and social benefits across a range of initiatives. Since 2014, Alertcom have been supporting Trafford South Foodbank by regularly donating packed and tinned foods as well as toiletries.
Foodbank Manager Nicky Kenrick (pictured above, 2nd from left) said, “Trafford South Foodbank are solely reliant on donations from the public. We are so grateful to Alertcom for their regular donations, which are brought directly to our warehouse - always checking what we most need. Without such dedicated support we would not be able to provide the hundreds of emergency food parcels that we give out at our centres. Sadly we have seen an increase in clients needing foodbank help and since April 2018 we have given out over 4,300 parcels. Many thanks Alertcom for your team help.”
Will Barlow, (pictured far right) Alertcom’s product manager commented “We are very proud of the role we play in supporting Trafford South Foodbank’s impact in the community and look forward to working with Nicky and the team for many years to come”.