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How to make a Lone working policy

Any worker or volunteer who at any time works alone may be a lone worker. As an employer, it’s important that you meet your health and safety obligations towards this unique category of workers. Having a lone working policy in place can help you to do so.

Use this lone working policy if: 

  • you run a business (or other organisation) which employs staff or takes on consultants or volunteers

  • your workers, consultants or volunteers may, at any point whilst working for you, be classified as lone workers

  • your business is based in England, Wales or Scotland

This lone working policy template covers:

  • what a lone worker is

  • the unique health and safety considerations that lone workers may face

  • employees’ and employers’ responsibilities related to lone working 

  • risk assessment procedures

  • health and safety incident reporting procedures 

  • your business’ training, supervision and communication procedures related to lone working

  • your business’ arrangements for expenses, equipment and materials related to lone working 

  • security and insurance requirements and coverage for lone workers

A lone working policy is an employment policy document that sets out a business’ (or other organisation’s, eg a charity’s) approach to lone working. As a policy document, it is not a binding contract between the employer and its workers. It does, however, set out how the employer will abide by health and safety requirements which are imposed by law (ie compulsory).

If there is any possibility that somebody you engage may, at some point, be a lone worker, you should have a lone working policy in place. This includes situations which are not immediately obvious as lone working situations. For example, if you have contracted cleaners who may be in an area of your business’ premises alone whilst working, even if their colleagues are elsewhere on the premises. 

Having a lone working policy in place allows your business to be clear on how it will meet its vital health and safety obligations towards your lone workers. It also clearly sets out your arrangements regarding expenses and other issues that lone working may bring up. The policy gives you a clear, reliable way to communicate these things to your workers.

A lone worker is somebody who, at some point in time, works by themselves without close or direct supervision or support from colleagues - they are physically isolated from their colleagues. This includes (but is not limited to) people who: 

  • work from home

  • make calls alone to clients’ homes or to clients’ commercial premises to work (eg electricians or carers)

  • drive alone while working (eg delivery drivers)

  • work separately from others within a larger premises, including within their employer’s own premises (eg cleaners, night receptionists or security staff)

  • operate premises alone (eg petrol station attendants) 

  • work alone in other remote locations (eg volunteers planting trees in a forest)

The term ‘lone worker’ includes employees, temporary workers, contractors/consultants, volunteers, freelancers and self-employed individuals who are working or volunteering for you.

The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 impose a duty on employers to care for the health and safety of their workers while they are working. This includes all lone workers, including people working from home. 

As part of this duty, employers must conduct risk assessments. They must act on the assessments’ outcomes, for example by avoiding or controlling risks. If you have 5 or more employees, you must write down the significant findings of your risk assessment. Employers aren’t required to perform a separate risk assessment for lone workers, but they must consider the health and safety risks for all employees, which means they must consider the risks associated specifically with lone working. Conducting separate risk assessments for lone workers can be an effective way of achieving this. 

Employees have a corresponding duty under health and safety law to care for their own health and safety while at work, and for that of others. They must also cooperate with their employer as the employer endeavours to meet their health and safety obligations. 

For more information on these responsibilities, read Health and safety.

A risk assessment is a systematic examination of employees’ work activities, carried out to consider and evaluate the potential risks (or ‘hazards’) that their work poses to the health and safety of themselves, their colleagues, and others (eg customers or members of the general public). 

A risk assessment should include:

  • identifying the risks to employees’ and others’ health and safety

  • evaluating the risks in relation to what you already do to reduce these risks (eg by considering how likely each is to occur, and how serious the outcomes of it occurring may be)

  • deciding on strategies for tackling the risks (eg by eliminating, minimising, isolating or otherwise controlling them)

  • putting these strategies into practice and evaluating their effectiveness

It is an employer’s responsibility to carry out risk assessments, although employers should involve the relevant employee(s) and should take their input into account. The responsibility is often delegated to a Health and Safety Officer (the person who holds day to day responsibility for health and safety matters on behalf of the employer) or another person, for example, the HR manager. 

For more information, read Risk assessments at work and the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE’s) guidance on risk assessments.

This lone working policy is supported by, and touches on issues which are usually covered within, other employment policies. For instance: 

  • a Health and safety policy - this policy covers risk assessment, incident reporting and other general health and safety considerations that are relevant to the lone working policy

  • a Working from home policy - if you have employees who work from home (ie a specific type of lone worker). A working from home policy sets out more detailed provisions for this particular way of working

  • a Data protection and data security policy - which helps your business to meet its data protection compliance requirements. It can help you to ensure that lone workers do all they can to help you meet these requirements, even whilst working in less supervised and more unpredictable environments as a lone worker

Ask a lawyer for advice if:

  • you want to add specific provisions into your lone working policy, for example, provisions on insurance or equipment costs for lone workers

  • you employ lone workers in a highly regulated sector, such as healthcare

  • your lone workers travel outside of the UK

Other names for a Lone working policy

Lone working statement, Lone worker policy, Lone worker statement, Lone working policy and procedures, Lone working health and safety policy.