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How to prepare for lone working

A woman getting into her car

Who is a “lone worker”?

A courier delivering a package from their van to someone’s home. A receptionist sat alone at the front of a building. A tour guide working a shift at a museum. An electrician fixing a wiring fault in someone’s home. A travelling salesperson. A contractor carrying out an inspection. A school teacher in class. A care worker providing support for patients in their own homes. A cleaner. A landscape gardener. A private tutor. 

It may come as a surprise, but each and every one of these people are considered lone workers. It’s even possible that you are a lone worker and you didn’t even realise it. 

A lone worker is simply defined as anyone who works by themselves, without direct or close supervision, even if only for certain parts of their job or during certain times of the day. If you think about it like this, I’m sure you can think of plenty of roles where people would be considered lone workers.

Since they spend some or all of their time working alone, lone workers are at an increased risk without other people being immediately available to help them if something goes wrong.  

One of the main things that a lone worker needs to consider is what they do before they leave for work. Before an employee leaves the house - to go to work, shopping or meeting friends for example - here’s a few things they can do to be prepared:

Make sure your phone is fully charged

First of all, you may actually need it to give you directions to your destination, but your phone is also a device that can be used to locate you, and it likely has a torch light which can come in handy. 

And, obviously, it means you have the option of calling the emergency services, a family member or a friend if you need them.

Plan your journey

If you often make the same journey, then you’ll know your route like the back of your hand. But if you’re at all unsure, get the address up in advance and decide on your route, including how you’re going to get there and back - will you drive, walk, grab a bus or the train, or a mixture of these?

And note down your expected time of arrival. It’s also best to have a back up plan, especially if you’re taking public transport, so you can make sure you don’t miss the last bus!

Pack some essentials

It’s a good idea to pack a bottle of water, a snack, and a portable phone charger. 

And of course, make sure you have any medications and work equipment that you’ll need while you’re out.

Make contact

If you’re going to a new location for the first time, check in with someone to let them know that you’re leaving and give them the destination address. You should also give them your estimated arrival time and tell them that you’ll contact them when you arrive. You may even have a buddy system at work that you need to follow for everyday travel.

And finally…

Consider any other risks

Such as the type of location you’re heading to, the weather, and the time of day, for example. This may sound like a lot to remember, but in reality, it’ll only take you 5 minutes to go through. And it’s 5 minutes well spent. A little preparation can go a long way!

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