Photo of happy elderly woman with her young caregiver

How Often do I Need to do a Risk Assessment for a Lone Worker?

Lone workers increase the flexibility of the workforce and can make it possible for an organisation, especially a care organisation, to deliver better services to their clients.  However, having an employee work alone also presents unique risks and challenges.  One thing that needs to be taken into account is the need to conduct risk assessments for lone workers.

Lone care workers, their situations and responsibilities

Lone workers in the field of home care have a wide and varied list of responsibilities and work in a variety of different situations.

Lone care workers often find themselves employed outside of normal working hours, when other services are not available, or when other risks or dangers may present themselves.  They often work evenings or even overnight, on the weekends, and on holidays.

Additionally, home care workers are not working in a facility—they’re visiting clients within their homes. That in itself can lead to unusual risks, like the need to park in unsafe areas, exposure to potential accidents from using the equipment present in these homes, or traveling to areas that present particular risks. For example, a lone worker may find themselves in a remote rural area or a high-risk urban area that they might not otherwise travel to.

How a risk assessment can help

One way that employers can help their lone workers is to take responsibility on themselves for conducting risk assessments. That is, the onus to assess risk should not be placed solely on the worker. The results of this assessment should be analysed to detect risks so that safety measures and systems to protect the worker are implemented.

How often should such assessments occur?

The frequency of risk assessment should be dependent upon both 1, the organisation’s safety policies, and 2, the risks which have previously been assessed in regards to an individual worker’s situation.

An initial risk assessment should be part of any organisation’s safety policies. That assessment should in turn be used to determine when the next follow up assessment or supervisory period should take place. Additionally, it is wise for organisations to determine a minimum frequency for risk assessments, based on their average lone worker’s circumstances. Finally, whenever there is a change to the worker’s situation, a new risk assessment should be performed in order to reevaluate the need for safety measures and systems.