When we consider remote workers, we could say a lot of people work alone today. But there are those for whom the word ‘remote’ means something entirely different than the living room.
Lone workers are often in danger simply because their tasks are solitary or the environment extreme: A night maintenance worker, cell tower technician, or just a convenience store clerk working at 2 a.m. Even a social worker calling on a family could be considered alone.
Those working at solitary sites, during non-standard hours, or alone in the presence of strangers, have special safety needs.
First among those needs is a means of communication.
Lone workers should check their communication devices daily before going on the job. Cell phones should be charged and they should have a backup method of charging. Depending on how extreme the circumstances, a portable battery backup for the phone may be necessary.
In some cases, remote workers are provided with touch-to-talk gear in in case cell service isn’t available and these, too, should be checked before beginning a shift.
Along this line, remember to inform contacts if your cell phone number changes.
Most solitary workers will have to check in daily or hourly. They should make sure contacts know how long a task is expected to take.
Solitary night workers should have regular check-ins with other shift workers and managers.
There are some instances when people should never work alone:
* Environmental conditions: The risk of avalanche or severe weather.
* Exposure to chemicals or work that requires a respirator. Confined space workers, for example, should never work alone.
* Dangerous public or private spaces. Anywhere the potential for violence exists.
* Sites where wild animals are present. Alligators, snakes, bears and more can be found in wild and swampy areas.
Before starting a task, lone workers should take time to assess a situation for hazards.
During a task, lone workers must decide when to stop work.