Health and Safety of Lone Workers

Many builders have employees who work on their own from time to time without close or direct supervision. A van or lorry driver delivering materials to a site, a service engineer inspecting or repairing a door, window, lock or some defective item and a decorator working in an unoccupied property are all examples of "lone workers". Similarly a surveyor or an estimator might be expected to visit an unoccupied building in order to provide a quotation. In all of these circumstances employers must consider the possibility of the person becoming unwell or having an accident and losing consciousness. Many unoccupied buildings have weak floors and staircases, missing or unsafe trap doors to basements and often the electricity has been turned off leaving only daylight or a torch to assist the person seeing a hazard.

Working alone is not in itself against the law, and it will often be safe to do so. However, the law requires employers and others to think about and deal with any health and safety risks before people should be allowed to work alone. Employers have responsibility for the health, safety and welfare at work of all of their employees. They are also responsible for the health and safety of those affected by work activities, for example any self-employed people they engage and visitors such as contractors. These responsibilities cannot be transferred to any other person, including those people who work alone. It is the employer's duty to assess risks to lone workers and take steps to avoid or control risks where necessary.

The Health and Safety Executive guidance leaflet INDG73(rev2) "Working Alone" is available on-line at

www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg73.pdf

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