Adi Scott of Worthwhile Training will be delivering a workshop on Providing Training to Lone workers at our conference on October 2nd in London. Tickets are still available if you register on to the website now.
In this weeks blog, Adi talks about why training for lone workers is as important as any other control measure.
When you consider the wide range of measures that can be taken to enhance the safety and well-being of lone workers, there is a common factor to every one…..they are all far more effective when they are accompanied by appropriate and on-going training.
When looking at Lone working, the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) states ‘Training is particularly important where there is limited supervision to control, guide and help in situations of uncertainty’. (1)
Further to this, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recognises that training helps ‘develop a positive health and safety culture, where safe and healthy working becomes second nature to everyone’. (2)
Policies, procedures and guidelines can remain conceptual words on a page unless put in to context and brought to life through engaging training. Lone workers need to recognise their ’powers’ (what they can do) and their ‘limits’ (what they should not do) within their job role, as well as understand the ethos and thinking behind company policies and procedures.
Training that enables staff to apply the written words to real-life scenarios and discuss their implications tends to enhance the ‘buy in’ from those staff. It can also identify potential short-comings in the policies and procedures if, during the training, the workers reveal concerns they have experienced when trying to follow them in practice.
Lone worker devices clearly offer support to remote workers, but simply issuing an employee with such a device without the training of how and when to use it leaves the organisation wanting in their legal duty. Equally (perhaps, more importantly) it leaves the employee unsure of how to integrate the device in to their working routine and potentially technically challenged if they need to call for support in an emergency. All the major lone worker device suppliers in the UK will attest to the fact that that the level of staff compliance in using the system is dramatically increased when those staff also receive appropriate training.
Some organisations will utilise their own ‘Logging in and Out’ or ‘Tracing Systems’. Once again, simply expecting an employee to follow a safety system because they are told to can often result in low compliance. A good trainer should be able to create relevant and inter-active material that allows those employees to understand more fully the benefits of an effective tracing system. This should allow them an opportunity to follow a ‘what if?’ scenario through the process to help prepare them to act and respond appropriately to their working role at each stage of the system – both in everyday usage and during the event of an incident.
When it comes to helping prevent and manage the risk of violence to lone workers, the HSE remind us, ‘The most effective solutions do not have to be expensive and usually arise from the way a business is run, such as staff training, job design and changes to the physical environment’. (3)
The training room can provide a safe and supportive place in which staff can explore and practice de-escalation techniques combined with strategies to help avoid, reduce and manage potentially aggressive behaviours. Under the guidance of a skilled trainer the staff can experience inter-active exercises that challenge them to cope with the types of conflict they may encounter within their specific working role. As stated by Unison, ‘Where employees work alone, it is particularly important that they have the information and training they need to avoid panic reactions in unusual situations’. (4)
In general, quality training for lone workers can increase their competency and confidence whilst giving them an opportunity to share experiences and concerns. It addition it can enhance their working links and help build rapport with colleagues they may not usually get to spend much time with. For the company, the costs of good training can be justified not only in enhanced efficiency and productivity but in creating a more motivated, loyal and committed workforce with a higher retention. There is also a very real likelihood that the company may well experience fewer safety incidents. The result of this will be less risk of litigation, less time and money investigating and managing incidents, reduced insurance costs and the satisfaction that their lone workers are safer. Money well spent for worthwhile training.
- Health and Safety Authority – hsa.ie/eng/Topics/Hazards/Lone_Workers/
- Health and Safety Executive – Why is health and safety training important?
- Unison –
- Health and Safety Executive – Work related violence
For more information contact Worthwhile Training or come and talk to Adi at the conference and expo.