AIRM February Seminar Risk Manager
AIRM hosted their February Seminar on Lone Worker Safety issues and the associated risks
The presenters on the day were Stephen Heffernan, SERIMA1 who dealt with Policies, procedures and some case studies and Michael McGuirk of RSP Radio and Security Products, who demonstrated a number of the products on the market for Lone worker protection. Both presenters offer tailored solutions to the risk. The following were a number of the points of interest which came out of the presentation.
• The H&S Act 2005 does not specifically Michael McGuirk , Geraldine Dempsey and Stephen Heffernan say it is against the law to have lone workers. There is some legislation relating to explosives, commercial diving, transport, and haulage for example where lone working is not allowed. • “Lone working” can mean workers who work remotely from other workers. That is to say, other workers might be employed in a complex, fairground, warehouse, research establishment, but remotely from others. • A general “rule of thumb” or guideline Peter O’Toole and John Hamilton is if a worker cannot be seen or monitored by others every 15 minutes, then certain precautions must be taken to safeguard their safety and security and indeed the safety of others. • The range of lone workers and lone worker occupations is large and varied. It includes, postal services, security , retail, home workers, petrol stations, surveyors, crane drivers, farming, estate agents, cleaning staff, some teaching staff, maintenance or repair staff, local authority warden services, utility servicing and inspection staff, pest control operatives, hospital staff, rent collectors, lift repair district nurses, to name a cross section but there are many more.
Danny Boles , Gary Bergin and John O’Reilly
• Where possible a qualified person should conduct the survey. Sometimes the obvious can be missed; an example of this could be a retail establishment with 2 employees which operates on a 8am to 6pm basis. One worker comes in an hour early to do some admin work, merchandising and open the premises, and another worker stays an hour late to tidy up and cash up. When we take into account lunch times there is typically 4 hours per day where a “lone worker situation exists. • As an employer you are also obliged to inform contractors working on your site of any issues regarding safety and lone worker safety and security also. • Communications and other hardware are available for lone worker safety. Whatever system is being deployed make sure it actually works and particularly outside normal working times. Do not take it for granted that a GSM or Radio signalling device will work in every area of your site or wherever the lone worker may have to travel to. A thorough survey should be conducted before any device is put in place. • Consider in the risk assessment if the employee has a health condition which under normal circumstance would not be an issue but could be an issue in a “lone worker” situation. • Ensure all policies and procedures regarding “lone workers are adequate to deal with the risk, training is provided where necessary, and the situation is reviewed and monitored on a regular basis. • In the event of an incident then an incident report should be filled out and acted upon as soon as possible. • It does not necessarily mean that you have to put in place expensive hardware or procedures to deal with the risk, and it is certainly not prudent to ignore it.
• Much of the onus of protection falls on the employer, however the workers themselves do carry some of the responsibility for their own safety.
• Litigation costs may be extremely inconvenient, give bad publicity, reduce staff morale and can be very costly in terms of administration time and finances.
• The employer must carry out a hazard identification and risk assessment and ensure that there is no added danger by the worker working alone. Jackie Lacey, Ed Williams and
risk manager magazine spring 2011