In the construction industry there are many roles requiring working alone for instance security guards, site managers, machine operatives, quantity surveyors, builders, drivers, workers at height or underground and in isolated areas. Working alone is not against law but employers are required to consider any health, safety and welfare of their workers including self-employed contractors working on their sites. Employers have a legal requirement to provide adequate health and safety solutions.
Workers are obliged to cooperate with employers to obey their legal obligations. However, the responsibility for health and safety breaches is on the employer. Construction lone workers are often at risk from activities like lifting heavy objects, operating machinery or working at height. Even the busiest and largest construction sites have a quiet areas like basements, roof spaces, lifts etc. Health and Safety Executive (HSE) estimates that in year 2015/2016 there were 144 lone workers killed.
Risk assessment should be carried out to estimate risks and take the appropriate measures. There are some high-risk activities where at least one other person may need to be present, like for instance:
- working in a confined space
- working at or near exposed live electricity conductors working in the health and social care sector dealing with unpredictable client behaviour and situations
Employers who have five or more employees must record the significant findings of all risk assessments.
Employer Checklist for safe working conditions of lone workers :
- Do they work up ladders?
- Is there a lot of heavy lifting involved?
- Are staff on their own for extended periods?
- Are your workers at risk on vehicles such as forklift trucks?
- Do staff use dangerous equipment?
- Do they work in wet, oily, dusty environments?
- Do they work in hazardous conditions?
- If there was a problem would you easily be able to locate a worker?
Recently, the new device called MicroSOS was developed by Peoplesafe. It is the world’s smallest and lightest lone worker device fully certified against BS 8484:2016 and Police’s “Secured by Design”. The MicroSOS directs to Peoplesafe’s Alarm Receiving Centre if the button is pressed. This device is equipped with a fall sensor which automatically raises the alarm if the user is incapacitated. It is fully dust safe and waterproof. It is designed for tough conditions of building sites and it is extremely durable. It can be worn in a number of different ways. The portable docking station allows for easy charging.
- panic button immediately connects to ARC
- user to report location, activity and duration of the task
- automatic alarm to set off if the user slips, trips or is unconscious
- for location of the user by the authorised colleagues or via ARC
- for voice memo for pre-alert messages 2-way communication audio up to 2 meters
On the market there are also available the lone workers apps. Apps are easy to implement on site as most of the workers have a mobile phone. In addition, apps do not require the separate charger. Lone worker app connects to the ARC when a red alert is triggered. However, such apps are perfect solution for low risk or occasional lone workers. The network coverage might be the obstacle for implementing such solution on some building sites. It is recommended to choose the accredited app with BS 8484 which is the British Standard for suppliers of device/app based lone worker services. Providers of lone worker services should be certified to the standard. However, devices and apps also need to comply, as mentioned in section 5 of the standard.
Established almost 30 years ago, Secured by Design is the official UK Police flagship initiative which combines the principles of ‘designing out crime’ with physical security and processes. It acknowledges quality security products and crime prevention projects as part of its aim to reduce crime by creating high level security standards.
To decide which solution will be the best for your lone workers assess the building site conditions and risk associated with their jobs. To learn more about MicroSOS and see a demonstration at a time and place convenient to you, please get in touch with Peoplesafe on 0800 990 3563 or email [email protected]