Ensuring the health & safety of employees working alone

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If you have employees working alone, you’ll need to consider how you will manage their health and safety.

There is a general duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 to eliminate all risks to health and safety, and if risks cannot be eliminated they must be minimised as far as is reasonably practical.

For hospitality workers who are working alone, some of the risks include

Security – working alone may put an employee at increased risk from other people that they interact with or strangers.

Consider:

~ Is there a safe way in and out of the workplace, eg for a lone person working out of regular business hours where the workplace could be locked up?

~ What is the risk of confrontation?

~ Are there any reasons why the individual might be more vulnerable than others and be particularly at risk if they work alone (eg if they are young, pregnant, have a medical condition, are disabled, or a trainee)?

Safetyconsider the employee’s physical safety related to their job tasks.

For example, a chef working alone in the kitchen and a front of house worker closing up the dining area at the end of the night, will have different risks, but both have risks. Working alone means if something goes wrong or there is an accident, there may be no one else there to help the person.

Consider:

~ Does the workplace present other specific risks to the lone worker, eg handling equipment, that one person could have difficulty handling? Does the work involve lifting objects too large for one person?

~ Are chemicals or hazardous substances being used that may pose a particular risk someone working alone?

~ If the lone worker’s first language is not English, are suitable arrangements in place to ensure clear communications, especially in an emergency?

You need to select the most effective controls that are proportionate to the risk, and appropriate to the work situation.

Because each work situation is different, risks when working alone should be assessed and minimised or eliminated on a case-by-case basis. Examples of sensible options to promote the safety of employees working alone include:

  • a first aid certificate
  • an effective means of getting help quickly in an emergency
  • regular contact with another person or, if regular contact is impractical, they should check in with another person at regular intervals.

In addition, employers must have an effective means of communication with an employee who performs remote or isolated work.

The Restaurant Association’s health & safety manual includes information on developing your own after hours or alone policy. Contact us for more information.

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