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Common Risks And Hazards Of Lone Workers

Over 5000 fatal work injuries and over 2.8 million non-fatal work injuries were reported to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2017. Half of these were Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA’s list of “fatal four”. The fatal four include falls, electrocution, being caught in or between injury-related equipment, and being struck by an object. Each of these threats poses a serious danger on the job. However, for lone workers, the risk is even more serious.

The very definition of “Lone worker” covers many positions in manufacturing, laboratory, and maintenance. It also covers employees that may interact with the public, including late-night store employees. With heightened risks of working alone, these workers are considered to be at more risk due to the lack of direct supervision.

There aren’t any current statistics available in the United States. However, in the UK, there are some statistics that offer some insight into the situation. Lone workers comprise as much as 20 per cent of the workforce, making a lone worker risk assessment essential.

Top Four Risks For Lone Workers 

  1. Workplace Violence

People who work alone or who are in more remote areas are at a greater risk for workplace violence. In the UK, the Office for National Statistics has found that up to 150 lone workers may experience a form of violence on a daily basis. This is a particular issue if they’re working in National Health Services. 

  1. Falls

Per the BLS, slips and falls or trips have killed up to 887 employees in 2017. This risk is even greater for employees working as lone workers. Workers who may become incapacitated in a fall may not be able to call for assistance, even if they have a communication device. Accidents may go unnoticed for many hours or even days if they’re not being checked on regularly.

  1. Moving Objects

In 2017, 695 employees were killed by contact with moving objects or equipment. This includes falling objects, being caught in between collapsing structures, and caught in equipment. As with all hazards for those who are working alone, victims of such accidents may not be found for several hours to days if they’re incapacitated in the incident.

  1. Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Per the Department of Labor and Industries, as many as 10,000 sudden cardiac episodes annually happen in the workplace. For those who work alone, this can be a matter of life and death. Due to working with electricity in confined spaces and hazardous areas, these employees are at high risk for injuries that may be life-threatening. Lone workers may be injured more frequently than those who aren’t lone workers.