More than two-thirds of organizations have suffered an incident involving a lone worker in the past three years, a new report from software firm StaySafe claims. Based on a poll of 1,300 lone workers and health and safety executives, the report states that a fifth of these incidents were “severe”.
Most of the time (59 percent), stress, mental health issues and tiredness are the cause of an incident. Other incidents are attributed to external factors, such as ill health and aggression.
Manual and traditionally male-dominated industries - such as telco, utilities and construction - have higher rates of incidents overall, the report says. At the other end of the spectrum are charities, social services and the NHS.
Although StaySafe says this could be simply due to the nature of the roles, it also said it could be due to increased levels of training in these industries, as well as company culture. After all, this group conducted the most training; 60 percent held briefings on regulatory requirements relating to lone working.
Lone workers often (36 percent of cases) express their safety concerns to their employer, and while the majority (83 percent) only take action following an incident, some (17 percent) do nothing about it. What’s more, firms regularly overestimate how well they have dealt with hazards or incidents.
For Don Cameron, StaySafe CEO, the biggest issue is hazard and incident under-reporting:
“The considerable under-reporting of hazards is a major concern for health and safety executives, particularly as they seem unaware that their staff isn’t having these conversations. Under-reporting can lead to employers under-estimating the real level of risk faced by staff on a daily basis and failing to put in the necessary protective measures to prevent accidents or incidents.”
“We can see when it comes to reporting incidents, companies, on the whole, are doing the right thing. However, the research shows that health and safety executives can only take appropriate action when they are aware of safety concerns or potential risks and hazards that lone workers may face,” he added. It’s clear that there is a high rate of lone worker incidents, many of which are severe, and health and safety executives have to focus on preventing these before they happen by ensuring that they understand the safety concerns of their staff.”
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