Tips on keeping remote workers safe whilst working
Media headlines about workers suffering injury, attack, or even more serious consequences while at work make us all stop and think. However, if you are an employer the headlines are even more salient.
A growing number of organisations and sectors now employ people whose jobs require them to work remotely (i.e. away from the main site) or to operate alone, whether regularly or occasionally. Business sectors such as cleaning, construction, security and care in particular, have staff remote or lone working.
The British Security Industry Association (BSIA) has estimated that more than six million people in the UK work either in isolation or without direct supervision, often in places or circumstances that put them at potential risk. The BSIA follows numerous other advisory bodies in highlighting how the protection of its remote-working employees should be a key consideration for every business.
The Suzy Lamplugh Trust was set up in 1986 to campaign for safer workplaces free of violence and aggression. The Trust also reminds employers about their responsibilities towards their remote or lone workers. Most commonly, organisations will want to consider the safety of its remote workers as a routine part of its health and safety strategy.
Here are our tips for employers on keeping their remote workers safe whilst working:
- Employer responsibilities
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has stressed that employers hold the main responsibility for protecting the safety and health of remote or lone workers. The first essential step is for employers to know the law and standards that may apply to their specific work activity – remote working falls under the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (1999).
- Risk Assessment
Next, employers need to carry out a proper risk assessment for their remote workers. This will include considering their work environment, safe use of equipment and also the employees’ personal safety with regard to others. An important part of this are the arrangements for knowing where remote workers are, especially when they arrive and leave. Make sure that all team members have information on how to stay safe when working and travelling alone.
- Employee responsibilities
Remote workers themselves have a responsibility to help the employer fulfil their duty. Make sure your employees know the company procedures and policies. One of the important actions employees need to take is keeping the employer informed about where and when they are working.
Above all it is obvious that one of the most crucial aspects is knowing where your employees are. Rather than relying on manual reporting systems, many organisations are now making use of the latest technology to monitor where and when their remote employees are working.
A time management system such as uAttend can help with the company’s safety responsibilities. uAttend is a cloud-based employee management system which automates the collection and processing of time and attendance data. There is also the option for phone clocking and a free smartphone clocking app for clocking in from remote or dispersed sites. Businesses with employees working on remote sites find phone and smartphone app clocking particularly useful and cost-effective. Organisations using uAttend phone clocking include cleaning, on-site maintenance companies and carers making home or other site visits. Using such a system is a practical and do-able solution for the basic steps you need to take to keep your staff safe.