With the current situation regarding coronavirus in the UK, health and safety is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. It is looking ever more likely that people will eventually be forced into self-isolation for at least 2 to 3 weeks as we have seen already across Europe, which is going to make it much harder for you to check your staff are happy and safe, which will be increasingly important not just physically, but also mentally.
Lone workers are those who work by themselves without close or direct supervision, for example:
- · Delivery drivers, health workers or engineers
- · Security staff or cleaners
- · In warehouses or petrol stations
- · At home
There are always going to be greater risks with lone workers as they don’t have anyone to assist should something go wrong and for most of the cases above, risk assessments would have likely been put in place to help with their health and safety. For example, one of the most common areas of lone workers at risk is van or delivery drivers, due to the road risks and the fact they are on their own.
Another may be violence. Is someone being asked to work in a violent area with expensive equipment which may cause them to be robbed? All of these areas should be thought about and part of the risk assessment that you as an employer will need to do.
Another area that employers will need to consider is the mental health of their workers. If the UK is forced to self-isolate, then there will be people who will be forced into an environment which they may not feel comfortable with.
Working from home may be an attractive idea to some, but if you are suffering from mental health issues having to work alone at home may make you feel vulnerable and not having a normal routine may lead a person to suffer from anxiety. They may also not have the power or access to do certain aspects of their job which could also lead to stress.
With no one around to see rising levels of anxiety or stress, it will be incredibly hard for anyone to know how they’re feeling and help. They will also not able to leave their new working environment and take a break if the government encouraging everyone to stay indoors, which could make matters worse.
The employer’s role:
Lone working is something that many people across the world do and there are plenty of measures that are in place already, such as risk assessments for drivers, that enable people to work on their own safely.
However, with the spread of Coronavirus looking to have an impact on the whole of the country, health has never been more important. Both the physical and mental health of your workers is going to be important if we are put into self-isolation and it’s partly your responsibility as an employer to make sure that all your staff feel safe and comfortable in what they’re being asked to do and that you are open and approachable so they are not left feeling vulnerable.
As an employer here are a few things you can do to make sure all your staff are ok:
- · Have daily contact with all your staff, checking in on them at least once per day
- · Make sure all employees have all the required training to work from home
- · Do you best to make sure they can function as normally as possible, being unable to complete necessary tasks due to equipment could lead to stress.
- · If someone is struggling with mental health, see what help is available.
- For all the latest Coronavirus updates around health and safety, click here. For SMAS Worksafe updates please use the below sources.
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