Improving safety for lone workers: a guide for staff who work alone

SCIE Social Care Online
Health Safety and Wellbeing Partnership Group
Publication date:
01 January 2018


This document outlines what your employers and managers should do to improve the personal safety of lone workers and what you can do to protect yourself. An increasing number of health and social care staff work alone in community settings such as patients’ homes or on outreach work. Lone workers can be vulnerable and at increased risk of physical or verbal abuse and harassment from patients, clients, their relatives or members of the public, simply because they don’t have the immediate support of colleagues or security staff. Employers have overall responsibility for the health and safety of the workforce and have several legal duties in order to protect employees. These include: carrying out risk assessments of any work-related activities that present a risk to staff personal safety; prevention and eliminating the hazard; a policy to inform lone workers about the arrangements that are in place to protect them; training; ensuring systems are in place to support individuals following a ‘near miss’ or an incident of violence or aggression. Managers play a key role in ensuring that policies, procedures and risk assessments are implemented locally. Some of the key roles of managers include: sharing information; training and supervision; and individual support. Staff have also a legal duty to take reasonable care of their own safety and the safety of others who may be affected by what they do – or fail to do. They must report incidents; attend training; make sure they follow policy and procedures; assess the risks to their personal safety; and make use of their lone worker device.