A Guide to Mitigating the Safety Risk to Lone Workers

Best Practice Guide

Identifying the lone workers in your organization

Lone worker, it’s a pretty capacious term. But unless organizations have a detailed understanding of who’s included in the category, they might be unwittingly misidentifying their lone worker populations. The consequence of doing so: companies incur higher-than necessary levels of work health and safety risk.

So who are the lone workers in your organization? It might be difficult to tell. After all, a lone worker doesn’t always work alone. Most jurisdictions, for instance those in Australia, define lone work as professional work undertaken in a remote or isolated fashion and carried out in a fixed facility or away from a worker’s typical base.

Traditional representatives of the lone-worker class include social workers, security officers, truck drivers, delivery agents, realtors, in-home health aides, and traveling sales people. Meanwhile, the industries who’ve historically employed the bulk of the lone-worker population include manufacturing, construction, property maintenance and real estate, retail, healthcare, utilities, operational security, logistics, energy, and the creative industries.

The take-off of mobile work in advanced economies complicates that picture a bit, though, as does the growth of contracting and subcontracting, which is actively swelling the ranks of lone workers. In most jurisdictions, now, lone worker is just a catchall term used to describe any employee, direct or contracted, who works in a location where regular communications and steady supervision aren’t always available, as explains the New Zealand Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment.

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