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Safety Management Insights

7 Best Practices for Protecting Solitary Workers

Posted by Don Brown on Oct 7, 2015 8:30:00 AM

protecting-solitary-workersWatching out for fellow workers is one of the most important aspects of jobsite safety. But what can you do when nobody else is around? Solitary workers exist in plenty of industries, and they’re only becoming more common as new technologies eliminate the need for larger teams. What’s more, you’re responsible for protecting your employees whether they’re surrounded by workmates or all alone. The following are a few best practices for keeping your solitary workers safe, day after day.

1. Safe Work Environments

A safe workplace is important enough for a team, and it’s even more critical for a lone worker. Without coworkers to fall back on, they need to be assured that the hazards of their environments have been spotted, mitigated and eliminated where possible. These responsibilities fall first on safety personnel, but workers themselves should also be empowered to verify their environments are safe.

2. Clear Emergency Plans

No matter the precautions taken, accidents are bound to happen sometime. What’s important is how you react. For every injury a solitary worker might sustain, there should be a clear emergency plan in place. Quick action can prevent some of the worst injuries from becoming lifelong problems.

3. Fitness Assessments

Some jobs are best suited to solitary workers, but not every employee is cut out for every job. Employers need to make sure their lone workers don’t have any medical conditions that would render them unsuitable for solitary tasks, or that would prevent them from seeking help during an emergency.

4. Automated Warnings

Automatic warning devices are invaluable during solitary jobs. If a lone worker faints, falls or otherwise becomes incapacitated, he won’t be able to call for help. Automatic devices can alert supervisors or other workers when certain signals or vital signs aren’t received periodically from the solitary employee.

5. Special Training

Special jobs take special skills – especially when one worker has to get everything done on his own. Plus, a highly trained worker is less likely to succumb to panic reactions in stressful, unusual or dangerous situations.

Extra training is also important for completing tasks on time and within budget. Without colleagues to call on during unusual circumstances, lone workers need to be able to find unique solutions to new problems. Similarly, they need to understand their jobs’ risks well enough to know when to stop and seek advice from a supervisor.

6. Setting Limits

Employers need to establish limits regarding the duration, rigor and complexity of solitary work. Even the most skilled and experienced workers will need breaks, and exhaustion will inevitably lead to unnecessary danger and subpar performance. Without nearby colleagues to spot the signs of fatigue, consistent standards must be followed.

7. Supervision

Last but certainly not least, even solitary workers need supervision. They may not be surrounded by their teams, and they’re not under the constant watch of their managers, but they still need someone to keep an eye out. Mandatory check-ins, remote monitoring devices and periodic visits from supervisors are great ways to keep them on the company radar at all times.

Protecting solitary workers is the company’s responsibility, and therefore proper precautions should be taken. The key is to be proactive and not wait until a problem occurs to keep solitary workers safe. For more ways to protect lone workers, contact us.

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