How to Develop and implement a Lone Worker Policy for your organisation
The Health and Safety at Work Act places certain obligations on employers and employees in respect of safety at work including Lone Working. Probably the best way of translating those obligations into responsibilities and actions to be taken is to develop a formal written policy. But how often do we take our policy, sign to say we have reads it and them use it to stop our desk from wobbling?
A Loner Worker Policy should provide a framework on which procedures and practices can be built. It makes it possible to require or demand appropriate behaviour or action in relation to lone working safety matters. Furthermore a policy provides clarity, demonstrates commitment and develops confidence in the organisation’s willingness to address the issues of lone working safety. While the responsibility for policy development, dissemination and evaluation is a managerial one, the usual, and generally more effective, process for developing a policy is a joint one where management and staff negotiate and agree it. A policy that is not jointly developed is unlikely to be ‘owned’ by staff and so may not have their commitment to take action.
Before starting the process of developing a Lone Worker Policy it is helpful to be clear about a number of points:
- Who needs to be involved in the development process and how? Management, staff, health & safety representatives, Board members, specialist staff, Trustees? What are their powers and remit?
- The timescale for the development, consultation process and agreement to the policy
- The resources and support that will be required throughout the process
The Policy Document
The following list identifies areas that would normally be covered by a Lone Working Policy.
- Policy Title
- The purpose – This should be a general statement of what the policy is intended to achieve
- Definitions – Lone Working, Violence at Work, Workplace accident
- The philosophy – This section describes the basis from which the policy starts, the values and beliefs underlying it that can be expressed as a series of statements
- Whom the policy covers
- What the employer is committed to do
- What is required of individuals
- Performance measures
- Evaluation / review
Implementing Policy – Developing Procedures
Policies often stop at the point where they are statements of intent and, while the intentions are good, little action follows because of the lack of procedures. The policy itself says what people will do; the procedures then go on to say how they will do things. It is a like learning to drive; the Highway Code is our policy document telling us about our responsibilities to drive safely and the road signs telling us how to drive safely on a daily basis.
The sorts of procedures will depend on the nature of the organisations work but may include the following:
- Procedures that detail how particular jobs should be performed
- Procedures that deal with working practices such as controlling access to buildings
- Procedures relating to working patterns e.g. working alone out and about in the community
- Procedures on obtaining security equipment such as lone working devices and panic alarms