Occupational health and safety is rarely a one-size-fits-all situation, even within the same company. Different jobs require different approaches to safety.
For instance, some employees work in isolated areas that separate them from their supervisors and co-workers. This can create unique safety challenges for some employers. How workplaces deal with employees who work alone safely can have an impact on the overall safety of a work environment. That’s why we wanted to go through some of the ways that employers can protect those who work alone.
Provide a Panic Button
There are certain jobs that require solitary employees to have a panic button that can call for immediate assistance. Janitors, room-service attendants, housekeepers, and similar professions all fall under this category. Of course, even if it’s not required, providing a panic or emergency button for workers who are on their own isn’t necessarily a bad idea.
Understand the Hazards
Obviously, it’s important for any worker to understand the potential exposures of the workplace before they begin working. It’s also a requirement from OSHA. But there are also additional hazards that apply only to those who work by themselves for long stretches. For instance, what if someone falls or has a medical emergency like a heart attack? There’s no guarantee somebody will stumble upon this person. This is why all solo workers should have a job hazards analysis performed to help the worker and the employer understand all of the risks and hazards that exist in this situation. It’s possible that this evolution will indicate that there’s no need for a solo worker to perform this task in the first place.
Have a Check-In Plan
Communication is always key when it comes to isolated employees, and that communication often needs to be planned out. There should be regular intervals when an employee checks in with a supervisor, and that check-in should be recorded. If there’s a missed check-in, the point person can notify the appropriate emergency personnel to help locate the missing worker. Thus, the location of that employee should be noted at every check-in so emergency workers will at least have the last known location of that person. Keep in mind that OSHA doesn’t have specific standards for what constitutes an appropriate interval for check-ins, so this should be decided based on the specific hazards the employee is facing.
Train the Right Way
Again, training is essential for all workers, but this need kicks into hyperdrive for lone workers. They need to be trained on how to handle certain situations so that they can start helping themself while waiting for help to arrive. Likewise, solo workers should always have the right safety equipment and first-aid supplies. These are key details that are essential to keep in mind for lone employees.
Look for Improvement
Like all other aspects of workplace health and safety, nothing will ever be perfect when it comes to lone workers. There should be a constant evaluation of the procedures in place to check if anything is being overlooked. When workers are left alone for long periods, the margin of error tends to shrink if something goes wrong. That means the devil is in the details and any little imperfection or near miss should be examined so that the process can be improved and the employee will be safer when working alone.
Get All Employees Under the Same Safety System
Of course, whether they are a lone worker or not, it’s important that every employee at a company utilize safety management software. At EHS Insight, our safety solutions are easy to use for everybody at the company. Our software is also designed to monitor and organize every element of occupational safety so that no detail is overlooked.
If your company wants to make improvements to workplace safety, let us know and we’ll be happy to become your safety partner.