Many companies employ staff who drive as part of their work activities. These activities can range from the ubiquitous “white van man”, to sales representatives travelling to see clients, to managers travelling between sites, and so on.
The tasks are varied, but they all have a crucial common factor – that the employee is working on his (or her) own. Unfortunately, because driving at work is such an everyday matter the management of these lone workers’ health & safety is often neglected.
Issues which should be planned for, yet are frequently ignored, include problems such as:
- how will they raise the alarm if they are injured, take ill or find themselves in danger?
- how will the employer know if they need urgent help?
- is there an emergency response plan available if they go missing?
- and so on …
Many employers (but, thankfully, not all) work on the simple – and very naive – principle that the employee has a mobile phone and so they can call if anything goes wrong. It sounds like a viable plan, but a moment’s reflection soon reveals that it has significant flaws. For example:
- phone reception can be weak/ non-existent in certain areas
- batteries can go flat
- phones can be dropped
- phones can be left in the car/ van
- an aggressor could grab the phone from the employee
- etc …
The law says that the employer has to do “all so far as is reasonably practicable” to keep their employees safe in the workplace, and the definition of workplace includes the locations that employees are visiting/ driving through while at work. Does the issuing of a mobile phone meet the legal requirement in its entirety? No, it does not – which means that the employer could face serious legal penalties if anything goes wrong.
Planning how to respond to foreseeable risk is a normal part of business management, and health & safety management is no different. These plans need to be devised properly – before the crisis actually happens!
If you’d like help with setting up your lone worker safety programmes then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us via an e-mail or phone call.