Never truly alone

07 February 2023

How you can ensure your most vulnerable team members are never truly alone, using a connected safety technology lifeline that links them to immediate help if needed.

WHEN CREATING a safety plan for lone workers, companies often need to broaden their definition of what a lone worker is. There are some clear situations where an employee qualifies as a lone worker, such as people who work independently in remote locations or who frequently drive alone between worksites.

The British Safety Council estimates that up to eight million workers in the UK, or approximately 22% of the working population, are lone workers and employers have a legal obligation to manage any health and safety risks before their employees can work alone. 

Here are four main types of lone working scenarios to help your company comprehensively identify your lone workers:

As a general rule, lone workers are those who work by themselves without close or direct supervision, working out of sight or sound of a colleague or other qualified individuals. From warehouses and laboratories to construction sites and underground water treatment plants, many employees are considered to be working alone while indoors, even if there are others working in the building.


Potentially dangerous outdoor worksites can include oilfields and power plants, water treatment works and more. A worker can be alone for extended periods of time or for the entire workday, often in challenging environmental conditions. 


One in five workplace fatalities involves those employed as drivers. The challenges and dangers of this work are compounded after a long day on the job when the driver is fatigued or when weather conditions are poor. 


Biologists, oilfield operators and maintenance personnel, land surveyors and more. Many situations these workers find themselves in require equipment that connects them to emergency help while also actively monitoring their environment for hazards so they can focus on the task at hand.

Preventative steps

What is the most effective way to go about safeguarding your lone workers? Here are three critical steps to deliver the results you’re looking for.

Step One: Conduct a comprehensive risk assessment

Prevention begins with understanding and identifying ways employees can be harmed

A risk assessment for lone workers starts by identifying each type of lone worker situation in your workplace and creating a committee comprised of different skillsets to analyse them; fully assessing a situation—and its potential risks. 

Step-by-step analyses on workplace activities should be completed, flagging situations that can cause injuries or threaten health. These might include substances used that may be potentially harmful; risk factors associated with the equipment used; and the identification of times when an employee working alone is particularly at risk. 

Step Two: Create a plan to mitigate risk

Categorise risks—then eliminate, reduce, or manage them

Once the risk assessment has been completed with the potential risks for each group of lone workers identified, the next step is to evaluate how your company is currently addressing these risks and to fill in the gaps, as appropriate, to mitigate risk even further. 

Determine what procedures you’ll need to implement to mitigate the risks that remain—or any new risks that may be created as a result of the changes. Hazardous areas, for example, may be shut off unless a worker absolutely must be there. PPE can be improved upon, first aid stations added, and communication devices can be enhanced to keep lone workers safely connected.  

Step Three: Invest in lone worker safety devices and monitoring

Beyond saving lives, profitability and morale are boosted over the longer-term

Because lone workers are more physically isolated than people who work in groups, they can experience their own unique levels of high stress. Providing a lone worker with a reliable, connected safety monitor gives them a lifeline to others should an accident or incident occur.

The most advanced lone worker safety technology can combine layers of safety to protect those most at risk:

  • Call for immediate assistance – with connected devices, workers can activate SOS alerts to immediately connect them to safety monitoring personnel in the event of an incident requiring assistance. Devices that have two-way voice communication via text or optional push-to-talk, offer another way for your workers to quickly call for help, regardless of the circumstances.
  • Fall detection – the ability to detect an unusual impact or any drastic changes in tilt to indicate a potential slip, trip or fall. Once identified, the device can trigger an emergency alert, even if the device wearer is knocked unconscious. 
  • No motion detection – an accelerometer in a device can also detect if a worker has stopped moving for some time. This can indicate several hazardous situations a worker may have encountered, such as loss of consciousness while stationary, which would not trigger a fall alert. 
  • Missed check-in – for lone workers in the field or working independently for extended periods of time, rather than relying on text messages, phone calls or other manual methods prone to human error, regular check-ins can be automated using a pre-configured countdown timer. With a push of a button, the worker can acknowledge that they are OK at pre-set intervals without a supervisor needing to directly contact the worker to check and verify their wellbeing. If a check-in is missed and the worker fails to respond to a warning alert, the device can trigger a tailored emergency response protocol. 
  • Gas detection – lone workers need to know what hazards are present in their environment, even the ones they can’t see. If exposure to toxic or flammable gases is a potential risk during their workday, connected worker devices are flexible and can be configured to include single- or multi-gas detection capabilities. 
  • Data Analytics – when coupled with data science and analytics, connected safety devices can identify hazards before they harm workers. The ability to detect patterns through connected device readings allows safety managers and operators to take proactive steps to mitigate risks.

Lone workers & violence

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) defines work-related violence as: Any incident in which a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances relating to their work.This can include verbal abuse or threats as well as physical attacks.

According to the 2019/20 Crime Survey for England and Wales, there were an estimated 688,000 incidents of violence at work, comprising 299,000 assaults and 389,000 threats of violence, with 38% of those resulting in injury. 

By providing lone workers with safety monitoring technology and a means to discretely communicate in real-time with personnel empowered to deploy emergency responses, the employee has the tools they need to help them feel safe when working. It’s also important to train these workers on when to seek help; before the situation turns into one of physical violence.

Advanced authorisation for emergency response

The newly-upgraded BS 8484:2022 standard underpins the UK’s safety leadership by providing lone worker products and service providers with a code of practice that allows the dispatch of a police Level 1 response. Accredited providers can bypass the central 999 system to make the emergency response process as efficient as possible.

Summary: Best practice for lone worker safety

Consider a device that offers integrated solutions for lone worker safety. It is less practical to find a separate device for several different monitoring and safety functions—and you may find that these individually acquired devices don’t work well together.

Ensure that the devices have highly effective connectivity to provide a reliable lifeline for every employee. 

Be ready to respond to incidents in real-time. It’s crucial to understand who is involved, what happened, where the employee is located, precisely, whether indoors or out and whether anyone is nearby as well as if the threat is an ongoing one.

Use a monitoring solution with customisable alerts to eliminate the need to constantly monitor a map of worker locations. Alerts should include the worker’s name, location, and reason for the alert – whether it’s a person-down alarm, panic situation, missed check-in or exposure to a gas hazard. Alerts can be employee-activated if the worker is conscious, but the technology should also have the capability to send an alarm automatically if no motion is detected.

Remote monitoring teams should be available 24/7 and trained to respond to any type of emergency when it arises.

The bottom line: A life-saving investment

Knowing that well-being is monitored 24/7 by safety professionals who can respond instantly should an incident occur, significantly reduces workplace stress. Investing in monitoring also provides assurance to regulatory bodies that you have the proper safety measures in place and less ongoing risk of having an accident or injury occur.

The intangible costs – like the reduction in employee turnover — are significant. Workplaces that provide best-in-class safety protection demonstrate that they care about their workers leading to enhanced morale, efficiency, and employee loyalty.

Ultimately business needs and risks change over time. A scalable connected safety solution that offers the most reliable protection with the maximum flexibility to suit an organisation’s requirements, and budget, will futureproof this potentially life-saving investment.

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