For many workers, while they do not wish to be injured at work, at least they know that in the unfortunate event of them having an accident or incident, their colleges will be on hand to assist and call the emergency services if necessary. However, those who work alone face the risk of not being discovered or being unable to raise the alarm. For them, special considerations need to be made.
Working alone is not unusual, and can include jobs / tasks such as a sole trader working alone in a workshop, security guards, cleaners, lighthouse workers, people operating on a remote part of the site etc. When the company performed a risk assessment, it should have highlighted the potential risks and dangers that lone workers could face, and introduced control measures and procedures to keep them as safe as possible. These include:
- Requiring the lone worker to check in at regular intervals. If no word or signal is received, an investigation can be launched to check that everything is OK. Whilst there may be a simple explanation (eg the person simply forgot to check in or their equipment broke), they may also be crying injured and unable to request help.
- The provision of additional equipment such as personal alerts which can be used to attract attention in the event of an emergency.
- Extensive first aid training to allow the worker to treat injuries themselves to as great an amount as possible before help can reach them, for example being able to support a broken leg with a splint, or self-administrator a tourniquet to prevent blood-loss.
It may be determined that some activities are of such high-risk that either legislation or the company's own health and safety policy prevails the task being transported out by a single person. This means that should an accident happen to one person, another is able to get help. Even if the accident injures all the people present, such as an explosion, the more people there are in attendance means there is a greater chance of at least one still being physically able to raise the alarm and summon assistance after the event.
As well as the tasks involved, the characteristics and attributes of the person or persons involved should be taken into account before assigning them to a particular role. Those that are more likely to make a mistake, such as a young or inexperienced worker, or one who has a history of making mistakes and causing accidents, would not be the most suitable of candidates for working alone.