How to Create a Safety and Emergency Response Plan for Lone Workers
For businesses, worker safety comes from having the right tools, plan, and strategy to minimize risk and to respond to emergencies. It starts with doing all you can to reduce exposure to hazards, but you can’t control everything in unpredictable situations. So it’s crucial that you have a solid protocol in place to help your workers get out of emergency situations as safely as possible — especially when they work alone. While there is no cookie cutter approach to lone worker safety, as every business has its own unique set of needs, there are 6 fundamental steps that every safety plan should have.
Conduct a Risk Analysis
Before you can develop a risk mitigation strategy and emergency response plan, you need to understand the unique risks for each of your lone workers and the scenarios they face. Conduct a thorough assessment of the specific roles that each lone worker takes on, as well as the individual risks that come with those roles. Then think about the policies and procedures you currently have in place. How well do they address all of the identified risks? What are the gaps? How can you best address these gaps? What will your lone workers do if an emergency situation does occur? Do they have the tools and procedures to help them handle an emergency?
Go Beyond What’s Required
As an employer you are legally obligated to protect your workers on the job. First, you need to make sure you have your bases covered by complying with safety regulations in your area, specific to your industry. Regulations get updated frequently, so you must be diligent about reviewing the latest information consistently. For example, lone worker legislation in Canada was recently revised to have more rigorous safety requirements, underscoring the importance of incorporating advanced technology such as alarm devices and lone worker monitoring apps into safety protocols.
Failure to comply with regulations makes you vulnerable to all sorts of penalties, from fines to lawsuits. But this is the bare minimum — it’s not enough to truly minimize risk. The analysis you conduct in the first step positions you to take measures beyond the legal requirements so you could effectively meet the unique safety needs of your lone workers. Not only does this mitigate risk for your employees and, in turn, your business, but it also helps to increase employee engagement and morale, which can reduce costly turnovers.
Research the Right Solution
You could take a number of different approaches to lone worker safety. The number of choices available on the market can be overwhelming, and many of them come with potentially fatal limitations. Choosing the right worker safety solution may be one of the most important decisions you make. Take some time to think about what you would like to have and what would address the dynamic needs of your workers. Again, your needs are unique so identify the custom features and services your workforce requires to minimize risk. This will guide your decisions as you research what’s out there. Do take your time in looking for the right product and services. Would your workforce benefit from training to implement the safety solution effectively? Do you need a support desk? Does the vendor give you the tools to make sure everything goes as planned?
Pro Tip: make sure you get a product with a reasonable warranty!
Integrate the Solution
Once you find the right worker safety solution, it won’t be effective without getting your employees to apply it properly. Implement any training that your workers will need not only to learn the new safety tools and processes, but also to keep them fresh and top of mind over time. Running demos with teams is a helpful way to get started. Also, pilots can let you test whether the solution is indeed a good fit for you and your workforce.
You did your homework and found a solution. But this was based off of several assumptions. Now you need to test these assumptions. Remember that it’s okay if not everything goes as expected. This is your time to adjust as needed and keep on testing until you get it right.
Iterate, Test, Repeat
It’s important to highlight that you should never stop iterating on your worker safety and emergency response plans. Time over time you will gain new learnings, so keep on adjusting as you go.
Learn more about how SolusGuard helps employers keep their workers, and their business, safe. Contact us for a consultation today.