Lone Worker Safety Monitoring Must Include COVID-19 Provisions

Responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have caused unprecedented changes to work arrangements. In an age where social distancing has become a legal requirement rather than etiquette, lone worker status is more abundant than ever before. Employees are working in solitary or remote situations on a scale unheard of and this makes ‘lone worker’ safety monitoring harder to enforce for policymakers. Most jurisdictions categorise lone workers as those that work in remote or isolated fashion where regular communications and in-person supervision aren’t always available. These factors that define lone workers contribute to the high-risk profile of lone workers: should an act of violence or workplace accident happen, access to emergency services is restricted and therefore more danger is present. 

Lone Worker Safety Policy and The Law

Lone workers must be protected to reduce employer liability. Lone worker safety policies are required by state law and must undergo frequent assessment to ensure they cater for all potential workplace hazards and emergency response requirements of lone workers. However, the current COVID-19 situation has added complications to the provision of lone worker safety. Internal risk assessments and policies must now take into account social distancing regulation and other restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Lone Worker Risk Assessment

In the context of standard lone-worker risk assessment, probing questions must be asked of a workplace environment to fully uncover the danger present. After potential hazards have been identified, solutions must be implemented to reduce the likelihood of harm occurring. Probing questions include:

  • What kind of lone work is being done?
  • Where is the lone work taking place?
  • How long will the lone work take?
  • Who are your lone workers?
  • What communication systems do your lone workers have?

Factors including job description, job location, time of day, duration of work, employee experience and comprehensiveness of communication systems all carry different risk profiles. For example, a job that involves working with corrosive chemicals has a greater risk profile than an inside desk job. Work carried out outside of the range of emergency services carries a greater risk profile than work completed in the CBD, etc. 

Risk Assessment and COVID-19

With regards to COVID-19 and lone worker policy, the duration of work and who lone workers are must be carefully considered to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Essentially, the longer the job takes, the longer workers may be put in contact with someone who has COVID-19 which increases the risk of transmission. Similarly, if one worker has travelled to a COVID-19 hotspot for work or a holiday they have a high-risk transmission profile. If a worker has symptoms of a cold or flu, they must be able to communicate this to fellow employees. Each of these potential situations must now be accounted for by solutions included in lone worker policies.

If your lone worker safety plan includes equipping employees with lone worker safety devices, contact TWIG Australia today to discuss our product offering. We have several lone worker safety devices for sale and can help your business remain compliant with NSW regulation and ensure the safety of your employees as they operate as lone workers.

TWIG Australia is open for business Monday to Friday, 9:00am to 4:00pm. Call our friendly sales team on (02) 9412 2100 or reach out via our contact page to place an order for any of the products listed on our site or to ask any questions about creating a lone worker safety monitoring plan. We look forward to receiving your call.