Policies and Risks Associated with Lone Working
POSHH, a safety and health well-being group in 2013 partnered with NHS Protect to provide advice to aid managers and employers in the health sector to address the issues related to lone working. The institutions laid more focus on the need for a stout risk assessment and management in the contexts of lone working (NHS Employers, 2013). The two came up with an outline guiding the employers and managers on what to do to better the safety of the staffs working on their own. The increasing number of the NHS staff working alone prompted the health unit to device some means to better their working conditions. Adequate planning is key in any case requiring a staff to work alone. In order to address the issue of lone working appropriately, the risks associated with working alone in the context should first be assessed and the then the appropriate policies put in place.Lone workers are vulnerable to both physical and verbal risks from the public especially in community settings (British Safety Council, 2018). The communities may gang against the health worker verbally or even harass him or her physically. Such cases are mostly reported when the medical practitioners go for outreach work without any security staff or immediate colleagues. According to the NHS Protect, a lone worker refers to any staff working in a setting without any nearby workmate or out of a colleague’s earshot or eyesight (NHS Employers, 2013). This definition not only covers the workers within the community settings but also incorporates those in a building but have no access to colleagues. Lone workers are usually exposed to a variety of hazards which could be life-threatening. Some of the risks that the lone workers are exposed to include sudden illnesses, accidents, violence from the members of public, inadequate provisions and insecurity (Sull, et al., 2018, p. 7).
Employers and managers have a duty to guard the safety of the lone workers by mitigating any risks including verbal abuse that can result to either mental or physical harm (G, et al., 2013, p. 136). The staffs should also be encouraged to take a number of practical steps to help them increase their safety while on duty. Every health unit should give their staffs lone working devices to enhance their safety. Employers should take a full responsibility for the safety and health of their staffs while on duty. Legally, the employers have legal duties to protect their employees (Britt-Pipe, et al., 2011, p. 15). Also, before engaging in lone working, the employees should usually be assessed to determine their ability to work on their own. A robust risk assessment on the working area should also be carried out prior to the employee’s assignment (Richter, et al., 2014, p. 18). Only the employees who pass the assessment should be allowed to work alone. Before assuming duty, the lone employees should be given lone worker solutions and briefed on how to use them (Brennan, 2015, p. 6). Only the employees who pass the assessment and are willing to work on their own should be allowed to. Experts in the medical field have proposed some control measures that if instigated could help minimise the risks that lone workers are exposed to. The risk assessment process should also lead the managers to propose some control measures in the specific area of duty. The prescribed control measures include adequate communication, use of automatic personal protective equipment, first aid kits and adequate training. As an assistant practitioner in NHS, I have not had any experience of lone working. I am still working under supervision although I can perform some duties on my own. I have heard some testimonies from colleagues who have all admitted that lone working is not an easy task for anyone. However, the express a lot of gratitude to the NHS administration for the policies that have been put in place to guard their safety and interests.
BBC News, 2013. Lone nurses ‘at risk of attack’. [Online] Available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/6276680.stm [Accessed 28 May 2018].
Brennan, W., 2015. Safer lone working: assessing the risk to health professionals. British Journal of Nursing, 19(22), pp. 1-12.
British Safety Council, 2018. Managing Lone Working Risks. [Online] Available at: https://www.britsafe.org/products/managing-lone-working-risks/
[Accessed 28 May 2018].
Britt-Pipe, et al., 2011. Building personal and professional resources of resilience and agility in the healthcare workplace. Stress Health, 28(11), pp. 11-22.
G, M., Jackson, D., Wilkes, L. & Vickers, M. H., 2013. Personal resilience in nurses and midwives: effects of a work-based educational intervention. Contemporary Nurse, 45(1), pp. 134-143.
NHS Employers, 2013. A guide for lone workers: Improving safety for lone workers, London: s.n.
Richter, A., Kostova, P., Harth, V. & Wegner, R., 2014. Children, care, career–a cross-sectional study on the risk of burnout among German hospital physicians at different career stages. Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology, 9(41), pp. 12-33.
Sull, A., Harland, N. & Moore, A., 2018. Resilience of health-care workers in the UK; a cross-sectional survey. Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology, 10(20), pp. 1-22.