(08) 9202 6811 or 0424 798 658      Australia Wide
Online Security, What is lone working?

What is lone working?

Understanding Lone Working

Lone working refers to work activities carried out without the direct and immediate support of supervisors or colleagues. Simply put, if an employee cannot be seen or heard by a colleague, they are considered lone workers, whether it’s for part or all of their working day.

While some lone workers, such as security guards working alone at night, are easy to identify, many are not so obvious. Research indicates that millions of hidden lone workers exist—from a surveyor in a remote corner of a construction site to a healthcare worker behind closed doors in a clinic.

Lone workers face increased risks from workplace hazards as they handle these risks alone. Identifying and protecting lone workers in your organisation is essential for their safety.

Lone Worker Legislation

Lone workers are subject to the same Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) requirements as all other employees. Additionally, the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations (1996) includes specific provisions for lone worker safety.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH) and the Work Health and Safety Act (WHS) govern WHS practices in Australia. Each Australian territory has its own WHS laws and regulator. These laws ensure the health and safety of workers and anyone interacting with your business.

While each state has variations, all territories must adhere to the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH) or Work Health and Safety Act (WHS). The OSH Act applies to Victoria (2004) and Western Australia (1984). Other states follow a variation of the WHS Act.

Legal Requirements for Lone Working

Lone working employees are still subject to all requirements of the relevant WHS and OSH Acts. Working alone can increase risk due to the lack of direct supervision, making it vital to risk assess, provide safety equipment, and maintain regular communication with lone workers.

Section 3.3 of the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations (1996) mandates that:

  • Isolated employees must have emergency communication available; and,
  • Employers must ensure regular contact procedures with isolated employees and train them in these procedures.

Employers should also implement regulations to enhance lone worker safety, such as:

  • Conducting thorough lone worker risk assessments;
  • Creating and communicating a written health and safety policy;
  • Taking steps to reduce or eliminate risks for a safe working environment;
  • Providing information, instructions, training, and supervision; and,
  • Regularly reviewing and improving lone worker risk assessments and policies.

Main Risks and Hazards for Lone Workers

According to Safe Work Australia, lone workers may be isolated from help due to their location, timing, or nature of work. This isolation can hinder rescue efforts, medical assistance, and emergency response. Additional WHS risks arise when no one else is present to help with tasks, alert to hazards, or notice fatigue and mistakes.

Certain environments increase risks, especially where customers may become upset or aggressive, or where alcohol, gambling, or money are involved. Utility workers in rural areas, underground, or with dangerous machinery face environmental risks and may struggle to call for help in emergencies. Similarly, traveling staff may be unable to notify managers of accidents.

In some cases, despite stringent risk assessments and safety measures, the risk is too great to allow lone working.

Reducing Risks for Lone Workers

Monitoring employees using Lone Worker Apps is crucial for their safety, as accidents can occur at anytime. Regular communication and procedures for raising alarms are essential. Implementing a lone worker app like StaySafe can significantly enhance lone worker safety.

The StaySafe app offers features such as a panic button, GPS location, timed sessions, fall detection alerts, and welfare check-ins. Employee activity and location are monitored via a cloud-based hub, enabling employers to respond to alerts or outsource to 24/7 monitoring. If an employee fails to check in, has an accident, or raises an alert, help can be dispatched immediately.

Encouraging daily app use keeps health and safety top of mind for employees. Apps like StaySafe help you fulfill your duty of care and enhance your reputation as a responsible employer.

Implementing robust health and safety procedures communicates to staff that their safety is a priority for your organisation.

Find out more about how StaySafe can help you protect your lone workers.

Try StaySafe for Your Organisation

Regardless of whether you currently manage your lone workers in-house or have an existing solution, StaySafe can help you manage them more effectively.

Click here to learn more about StaySafe and to request a demo.

Scroll to top